The Association of Croatian Trade Unions (MHS) and the Independent Union of Research and Higher Education Employees of Croatia said on Thursday there was no alternative to wage growth, in a comment on Finance Minister Marko Primorac's message to unions that now was not the time to score political points.
Commenting on rising prices, Primorac told reporters on Wednesday that there would not be enough money in the budget to help everyone, claiming that everyone was threatening strike action and telling unions that now was not the time to score political points.
Unions say that statistics clearly show that wages in public services are lagging behind other wages in the country and that public service workers’ purchasing power is falling strongly.
Gross wages in June rose by 4% or only 2.3% on the year while prices in July rose by 12.3%, with price growth expected to be around 10% for 2022, the unions said.
“If the wages stay as they are now, employees in the education, health, social welfare, culture and other public sectors are facing a fall in their purchasing power of eight percent or more,” the unions said, noting that private sector employers have been raising their workers’ wages because they understand that they have to help them in the current situation.
The unions hope the government, too, is aware that an adequate pay rise is necessary and should be treated as an economic priority.
“The government has pledged, with the basic collective agreement for public sector employees, to launch negotiations by the end of September on an increase in the base pay for this year, in line with the economic situation and economic indicators. GDP has been growing beyond all expectations, the country’s credit rating is at the historically highest level, significant EU funds are coming for the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, and, most importantly, the fiscal situation is very favourable owing to record-high employment and excellent tourism results,” the unions said, noting that they expect the government to launch negotiations as soon as possible and threatening a strike if a solution is not found through talks.