Croatia: Latest developments in working life Q4 2019
The prolonged strike in primary and secondary schools and determining the minimum wage for 2020 are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Croatia in the fourth quarter of 2019.
Strike in primary and secondary schools
Primary and secondary school teachers organised a strike in demand of an increase in their salaries through a 6.11% rise in their job complexity coefficients. The protest, which began on 10 October, intensified when teachers’ unions called for a general school strike on 18 November. The teachers rejected the government’s offer of a coefficient increase of 2%. A strike began in over 1,000 elementary and secondary schools, involving the participation of 89% of primary school teachers and 85% of secondary school teachers.
Protests were organised in all Croatian cities and a massive demonstration was held in Zagreb on 25 November. The protestors insisted that the protest was not only about a 6.11% salary increase, but was also a fight for the dignity of teachers. After 36 days of strike and prolonged negotiations, trade unions and the government found a compromise solution. They agreed to an increase in the job complexity index of 3% as of 1 December 2019, an additional 1% as of 1 June 2020 and a further 2% as of 1 January 2021. The government accepted the increase of the Christmas bonus and the holiday allowance from HRK 1,250 (€167 as at 13 February 2020) to HRK 1,500 (€201), the increase of a gift for children from HRK 500 (€67) to 600 (€80), and the increase of severance pay by about HRK 2,100 (€281). 
- Government of the Republic of Croatia: Sporazum o dodatku na plaću zaposlenima u osnovnoškolskim i srednjoškolskim ustanovama te ustanovama u znanosti i visokom obrazovanju (OG 122/19)
Minimum wage for 2020 set
The Minimum Wage Act (OG 118/18) came into effect in 2019. The act stipulates that the minimum wage level should be determined by 31 October each year, while consultations with social partners should take place up to the end of September.
The act introduced a Commission for Monitoring and Analysis of the Minimum Wage, a new body to assist in the policy process. The commission consists of trade union and employer representatives, as well as members from the academic communities. As a consultative body to the Minister of Labour and Pension System, the commission analyses recent trends relevant for minimum wage policy.
The commission met five times between July and September in 2019 and proposed an amount of the minimum wage for 2020. The government determined the amount of the gross minimum monthly wage for 2020 at HRK 4,062.51 (€547), which represents an 8.33% increase and 46.49% of the average gross wage paid to employees in the economy in Croatia.
The increase is slightly bigger than the increase in 2019, which was set at HRK 310 (€41.7). Trade unions call for the minimum wage to be 50% of the average wage or 60% of the median wage. Employers, particularly from the textile and footwear industries, as well as from security services, countered that they are not able to pay such relatively high wages as this would endanger their competitiveness and position on the market.
- Parliament of the Republic of Croatia: Zakon o minimalnoj plaći (OG 118/18)
- Government of the Republic of Croatia: Uredba o visini minimalne plaće (OG 106/19)