Finance Minister Zdravko Maric on Tuesday said that one more round of talks with public sector trade unions on a possible wage rise could be expected by the end of this week.
“We are going to meet one more time this week. We have negotiated the issue in a sincere, open and clear manner,” Maric said on the margins of a conference on Croatia’s economic policies, organised by the association of Croatian exporters.
He added that in 2017, the base pay had increased by 6 percent, and Christmas and holiday bonuses were also paid.
Earlier this week, leaders of public sector workers said on 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.
They are demanding a pay increase of 5.8 percent, which is how much national wages are projected to grow next year.
The government had offered them a 3 percent base pay increase for 2019, which they rejected.
“We have about 900 million kuna (€121 million) available for 2019, and funds for Christmas and holiday bonuses are earmarked, we have set aside money to cover the costs of pupils’ transport,” Maric said.
Asked about the possibility of a gradual increase of the monthly wages, Maric said that this possibility would be on the agenda of the negotiations.
“We created this space for a 3 percent increase much before (the outbreak) of the Uljanik crisis. It is not true that we cannot do something due to Uljanik,” the minister said, adding that the government would like to negotiate the wage policy for the medium term.
In the period from 2010 to September 2018 the government had issued 7.5 billion kuna (€1 billion) worth of state guarantees for the Uljanik shipbuilding group, of which 4.29 billion kuna (€578 million) had been activated so far, Maric said in October.
He had said at the time that the series of order cancellations at Uljanik that the government might be forced to pay for could affect the public debt and government budget balance – figures important for the country’s credit rating.