Croatia: Latest working life developments – Q3 2016

The general election result, industrial relations developments, equality in the workplace, trade union training and moves to improve social dialogue are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Croatia in the third quarter of 2016.

Democratic Union wins parliamentary election

On 11 September, the Democratic Union party (HDZ) won the general election. The election followed the dissolution of the Croatian Parliament, after June’s vote of no-confidence in the government of Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic. HDZ gained 36.6% of the votes and 61 seats out of 151, with the main opposition movement, the People’s Coalition led by the Social Democratic Party, winning 33.5% of the votes and 54 seats.

Industrial relations developments

On 16 September, the Croatian teachers’ trade union organised a protest in front of the Ministry of Science, Education and Sport about irregularities in employment in primary schools. It held the protest with the aim of enhancing transparency in the recruitment process.

The Croatian Railway Workers Union (SZH) won a historic victory with the court decision to cancel the illegally elected works’ council at rail freight operator HŽ Cargo. The council had made several decisions on the restructuring of the company, including the decision to lay off 202 workers.

Labour market surveys and projects

Attitudes towards LGBT employees

Although a solid national anti-discrimination policy has been framed by law over the past decade, there is still no effective system for the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in the labour market. Organisations dealing with the rights of LGBT people, and trade unions dealing with workers’ rights, have only recently come up with new forms of cooperation. The project, LGBT Equality in the Workplace, investigated the attitudes of Croatian employers to LGBT workers and how they are viewed in the workplace generally. These activities will help LGBT people ensure their rights are respected, through a network of support resulting from the unions’ cooperation. 

Characteristic of good employers

In other news, a survey of more than 15,000 members of the general public on what makes a good employer found that the key factors were:

  • job safety (cited by 20% of respondents);
  • work atmosphere (18%);
  • promotion opportunities (17%).

Trade union training

A new, common system of trade union training, Project EDUCA, has been set up by the Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia (SSSH) and its affiliated unions. All courses are based on active learning methods, or a combination of lectures and practical exercises. One-day courses are held at the offices of SSSH in Zagreb, Split, Osijek, Rijeka and Čakovec, and a two-day course in Varazdin Spas, Daruvar and the Istrian Spa. The courses apply efficient methods of adult training in terms of content, scope and way of functioning, adapted to the needs of trade unions and workers’ representatives.

Boosting social dialogue in the construction sector

In Zagreb, the final results of a project to improve social dialogue in the building sector were presented. The Parity Fund project was carried out by the Croatian Employers’ Association (HUP) in collaboration with the Trade Union of the Construction Industry of Croatia (SGH) and Stowarzyszenie B-4 (a non-governmental organisation that encourages local development). The project’s goal is to establish a parity fund in Croatia and to transfer knowledge and best practice from countries with a long tradition in social dialogue such as Denmark, Germany, Italy and Spain. Parity funds are a complementary form of social funds and usually cover areas such as sectoral education and training, health and safety at work, the supplemental pension system and holiday pay.

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