Population: 4,400,000
Capital: Zagreb
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

A number of companies demonstrated anti-trade-union behaviour during 2006. Trade unionists were transferred, banned from entering the employers' premises or dismissed because of their activities. Although there were some improvements in the judicial system, problems remain as regards slow trials and the implementation of court decisions. The right to strike is still limited, despite EU criticism.

Trade union rights in law

Workers are entitled by law to form or join unions without prior authorisation.

Limitations on the right to strike: The right to strike is recognised, but there are limitations. Strikes can only take place at the end of a collective bargaining agreement or in specific circumstances mentioned in the agreement. If the strike is over the negotiation of a new collective agreement, there must be a mediation process before any action can be taken. Compulsory arbitration for the determination of minimum services may be imposed in any workplace with a view to maintaining production.

Protection: The Labour Code prohibits direct or indirect anti-union discrimination. Union delegates cannot be dismissed by the employer or be reinstated or downgraded without the consent of the trade union.

Budget overrides collective agreements: The law protects collective bargaining, but there are limitations in the public sector. The 1993 Act on the Realisation of the Government Budget allows the government to modify the substance of a collective agreement in the public sector, if there are not sufficient funds in the budget to meet all the financial obligations arising from that agreement.

The Act on Salaries in Public Services also limits collective bargaining rights in the public sector, by setting coefficients for the workplace, with the result that public sector workers can negotiate on their basic salaries only.

Trade union rights in practice

Anti-union employers: Private employers in small enterprises resist union organising, as do large national and international companies operating big commercial chains. Many of these employers simply prohibit their workers from organising. As the majority of new workers – approximately 80 per cent – are on fixed-term contracts, usually of only three months, they dare not join or form a union for fear that their contracts will not be renewed.

Judicial system – progress noted, more improvement needed: Court procedures last an average of more than three years and the European Court of Human Rights has been criticising Croatian court delays as "excessive". The trade unions have called for real labour courts, which could significantly reduce the duration of a court case. The reform of the courts has begun and the backlog of cases has been reduced, but there are still weaknesses in the system. Court orders for the reinstatement of trade unionists unfairly dismissed are not always implemented. Mr. Emil Francic, a trade unionist and an employee of the Electroosijek company in the city of Osijek suffered an unjustified dismissal on 13 April. A court ordered that he be re-instated on 22 July, but the employer had still not implemented the re-instatement order at the time of writing.

Violations in 2006

Background: There were a number of industrial disputes during the year, with results varying from a strike at Coca Cola being declared illegal by a court in February to a resounding victory for the teachers' union which signed a collective agreement guaranteeing a wage increase. The EU questioned the limitations on the right to strike in Croatian legislation.

Trade unionists harassed in several companies: The UATUC reported a number of anti-trade union activities throughout the country. Between May and October the head shop steward, Mr. Boris Besednik, faced persistent harassment from the management of Sila d.o.o. company (metal sector) in Zagreb. In the town of Metkovic, the Metkovic d.o.o. company failed to implement the law or the terms of the collective agreement. When the shop steward, Ms. Nada Popovic, protested, the employer started calling her names. In the Riz Odasiljaci company the employer refused to enter into collective bargaining and threatened the shop stewards with dismissal for disclosing information that the company classified as a trade secret. In December the Solidum Zuzic company opposed trade union organising, threatening workers with dismissal should they join the Autonomous Trade Union of Wood and Paper Industry. One shop steward, Ms. Marijana Matijasevic, was dismissed on 16 December, immediately after the trade union meeting.

Keep quiet or keep out of the enterprise: In September the Metalworkers' Trade Union of Croatia (SMH) went public about the violation of trade union members' rights at the Croatia Baterie d.d. company in Zagreb. Following that, the company representative Mr. Drazen Ivanisevic and the owner Mr. Branko Roglic banned the head shop steward, Mr. Josip Juricic, from entering the company premises.

No check-off facility: The Technomontaza d.o.o. company consistently refused to deduct trade union dues, despite being obliged to do so by law. After almost two years, the Labour Inspectorate fined the company, but it then appealed to the court, and a decision was still pending at the time of writing.

Dismissed for organising a strike: In July the members of the Autonomous trade union of Workers in the Power Industry, Chemistry and Non-Metal Industry in the Slavijatrans company (in the town of Petrina) went on a strike over the non-payment of wages. Although the strike was legal, on 25 July the employer suspended the whole strike committee from work and on 3 August their employment contracts were terminated.

Harassment of union delegates: The harassment of shop stewards and trade union members at the Sisacki Vodovod d.o.o. (public utilities, town of Sisak) started in April and further deteriorated on 3 September, with the arrival of new management. The company director, Mr. Zeljko Zuk, launched an overt campaign against the organisation of the Public Utilities and Housing Services Union of Croatia and the chief shop steward, Mr. Fadil Ibrahimpasic. The collective agreement was not respected, and shop stewards were harassed and transferred to other jobs under inferior conditions.

Anti-trade union campaign at IVERICA d.o.o.: In January the management of IVERICA d.o.o. in the city of Belovar prevented the regional trade union and the UATUC representatives from visiting the workplace. The situation deteriorated further when the management tried to dismiss two shop stewards and to reduce shop stewards' salaries. This resulted in court disputes, some of which were still pending at the time of writing. The management also failed to implement the sector-level collective agreement for the food and paper industry, refused to bargain with the trade union at the company level and obstructed co-operation between the trade union and the works' council. The head shop steward, Mr. Zeljko Hlupic, has been put under constant monitoring and suffered verbal harassment from the management.

Union activity obstructed: On June 26 a dispute began at Konfecija Antonazzo, a subsidiary of the Antonazzo textile company. The Croatian trade union of Textile, Footwear and Rubber Industry reported that Mr. Antonio Antonazzo, a company representative, forbade the staff from holding a general assembly, and management ceased all collective bargaining. On 25 December the shop steward, Ms. Klaudija Valentic (who is also a self-supporting single mother) was dismissed. The dismissal has been appealed in court, but the outcome was not known at the time of writing.

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