The SSSH trade union federation has welcomed the government's new set of measures designed to protect households and businesses from the impact of rising energy and food prices as a step in the right direction, warning that certain measures should have been designed better and that wages should be increased.
The union said that a wage increase in the private and public sectors was the only way to protect the living standards of workers and that without it, Croatia cannot win the battle with the current crisis.
The union called on the government to consider additional measures to ensure that gas produced in Croatia is made available to Croatian citizens as well as those entrepreneurs for whom it is the primary raw material or basic energy source for production and at a price dependent on the actual costs of their production and not based on the situation on international exchanges.
The SSSH also called for an increase in the non-taxable income to stimulate a pay rise and maintain the real value of wages.
The SSSH welcomes the measures for pensioners and the socially disadvantaged, but also underlines the need to introduce automatic indexation of welfare benefits similar to that in the pension system.
Considering that all pensioners with pensions below HRK 4,360 will be entitled to an energy supplement, the SSSH calls for the right to an energy supplement to be extended to include all workers with wages below that limit, through direct payments into their personal accounts.
The SSSH welcomed capping prices on certain food products.
It recalled that, regardless of the recent reduction of VAT on basic foodstuffs, their prices had continued to rise. It is not certain that all price increases so far were justified by input costs, and therefore the risk existed that certain prices would be frozen at an artificially created excessive level, the SSSH said.
Workers’ standards can only be protected with increased wages
The SSSH said that workers’ standards can only be protected by increasing wages and called on the government to increase the base pay during the upcoming collective bargaining for the public sector but also to continue working on further measures to additionally encourage collective bargaining and wage growth in the private sector.
At the same time, the union called on employers to finally accept union proposals for launching branch collective negotiations in the metal, food, wood and paper industries and the agriculture sector.