Public sector unions reject offer of 3 pct base pay rise

NEWS 22.10.2018 19:55
Source: Damir Spehar/PIXSELL

The government on Monday offered public sector unions a 3 percent base pay rise as of January , 2019, which they have turned down, the unions' representatives said after a meeting at the Labour Ministry.

The government’s offer is unacceptable,” said Stjepan Topolnjak, leader of the healthcare and welfare union.

At a previous meeting between the ministry and the unions, held earlier this month, the government had offered a 2 percent base pay rise as of January 2019, with an additional 1 percent increase as of July 1, 2019, which was also turned down, he said.

“That was unacceptable to us, and this offer of 3 percent as of January 1 next year is also unacceptable,” he said, adding that salaries in the public sector had lagged behind those in the industrial sector by 18.9 percent since before the financial crisis began in 2008.

“We realise we can’t get that now, so we might agree to some 50 percent (of the value), or an 8 percent base pay rise, and restoring old coefficients, which were cut by 3 percent in 2013,” Topolnjak said.

The government and the public sector unions will meet again on October 30.

However, Labour Minister Marko Pavic said after the meeting that a 3 percent base pay increase was the maximum the government could offer within the budgetary framework for next year.

“That’s our offer, considering all the budgetary circumstances,” Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said, adding that public sector workers’ salaries were high on the government’s list of priorities.

Unionist Boris Plesa said the 3 percent rise as of January 1 actually meant going back to the base pay of 2013.

“We expected a little more. However, this is it at the moment,” he said, adding that if this was the government’s final offer, the unions had no other option but to decide whether it was acceptable.

Negotiations will continue next week, so we’ll see what happens, said police union leader Dubravko Jagic, while Topolnjak said he expected the negotiations to be concluded by the end of next month.

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