Public-sector unions reject offer of base pay increase

NEWS 12.11.2018 21:45
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Source: Davor Javorovic/PIXSELL (ilustracija)

Leaders of Croatian public-sector unions said on Monday they had rejected the government's offer of a base pay increase of three percent for 2019, adding that they would continue fighting for a fair price of labour through various forms of pressure, including strikes.

Nine unions have turned down the government’s offer after they had discussed the proposal, the leader of the Independent Union of Secondary School Teachers, Branimir Mihalinec, said at a press conference.

The unions welcome the government’s plan to increase tax-free bonuses to 7,500 kuna (€1,000), he added.

The head of the Matica association of trade unions, Vilim Ribic, said that the government’s offer was unacceptable, because public-sector wages had been lagging behind those in the manufacturing sector for 10 years because of a recession and a wrong economic policy.

Unions have recently warned that the gap between public-sector and real-sector wages now stands at 18.9 percent compared to ten years ago, before the economic recession had begun.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said that a base pay increase of three percent was the government’s final offer.

“We have made that very clear, because the 3 percent increase isn’t that small in relation to the total wage budget, and it amounts to about 900 million kuna () annually. On the other hand, naturally we would all want the increase to be higher and will work on creating conditions for that in the time to come,” Maric said, speaking to RTL broadcaster on Monday evening.

He said that the government had very clearly communicated the base pay increase, just like last year, when the agreement was reached with some unions that the base wage would go up 6 percent.

“This increase, too, reflects the current fiscal and budget possibilities. That was our proposal, we didn’t approach the matter with any hidden agendas, and were very open and transparent. Our plan is to continue talks on an annual basis and try and see what the budget possibilities are,” he added.

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