Leaders of public sector workers said on Monday that public sector workers would launch a strike on November 28 and hold it for one day every subsequent week until their demands for higher wages were met.
Croatian Teachers Union leader Sanja Sprem said at a news conference the strike announcement was a message to the government, after talks between public sector workers and the government on a pay rise failed.
“The government’s offer was unfavourable, the government did not accept the arguments that public sector workers are underpaid and that their salaries should not lag behind the national average. The government’s offer of a three-percent rise in the base pay in 2019 is humiliating and clearly shows that the government does not appreciate employees in public services,” Sprem said.
After November 28, the strike will continue on December 4 and 13, and for one day per week until the government meets their demands, she said.
The leader of the Independent Union of High School Employees, Branimir Mihalinec, said that the national campaign for better services for citizens and a better status for public sector employees would last until a wage policy for public services was defined in talks with the government.
The unions today also announced a process of reconciliation with the government, said Branimir Mihalinec, head of the independent union of secondary school employees.
He said that public sector unions wanted a wage increase of 5.8 percent, which is how much national wages are projected to grow next year.
Social Care Professionals Union head Jadranka Dimic said that wages were not the only reason for the strike but that it was also a fact that the Croatian people, who during their working life pay high contributions for healthcare, social care, and education, need quality services.
“The government is offering our members a three-percent pay rise, and that’s only crumbs left over in the budget. By treating public sector workers that way, the government is actually telling citizens that it does not care who will treat them or care about them, what kind of education their children will get or who will care for the country’s cultural heritage,” said Dimic.
Meanwhile, Finance Minister Zdravko Maric said the unions’ right to strike was legitimate, adding the offer of a three-percent base pay increase as of 2019 was all the government could offer within the next year’s budget.
“We came out with an offer which some unions found acceptable and some didn’t. I think we’ll have another talk because they proposed it,” Maric said.
Answering reporters’ remarks that the unions wanted a 6 percent base pay rise, Maric said that “no one would be happier than us if public finances could stand such a percentage.”
“That 3 percent, without Christmas and other bonuses, is about 900 million kuna (€121 million),” he said.