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

Flexible working relations and anti-union pressure from private employers make trade union organising difficult. In spite of some improvements, law enforcement through the judiciary system remains slow and labour inspection capacities weak. At least four shop stewards were illegally dismissed, and three union activists lost their jobs after organising a strike.


Fundamental trade union rights are guaranteed, although with some limitations. Workers are entitled to form or join unions of their own choosing without prior authorisation, and union representatives are protected against anti-union discrimination. The right to collective bargaining is recognised by law. Public sector unions jointly negotiate the basis for all wages in the public sector, but unions may also negotiate their salaries separately with the government. However, the Act on the Basis for Wages in Public Services stipulates that if a collective agreement is not concluded before the adoption of the state budget, the government can decide on the wages unilaterally.

The Local and Regional Self-Government Wage Act of 19 February 2010 also restricts the right to bargain collectively for employees of local and regional self-governments. The right to strike is secured, however the strike provisions in the 2010 Labour Act do not apply to employees in state administration and public services, and the special law that will regulate this matter has not yet been adopted.


Background: Former Prime Minister Ivo Sanader was arrested in December 2010 and will face charges for organising a wide network of corruption in state administration and in public companies. A number of other former high level Government officials, including two ministers, are also facing corruption charges in court. The country is expecting to finish EU accession negotiations in 2011 and become a member state in 2013, although some of the key problems, including restructuring of the shipbuilding sector, are still to be solved.

Short-term contracts complicate organising: The majority of recently employed workers are on fixed-term contracts for up to three years, with some contracts being as short as three months. This situation especially affects young workers and women. Facing the threat of their contracts not being renewed, workers do not dare to form or join a union.

Reprisals for trade union activities: It is not uncommon that shop stewards and union activists face reprisals, including dismissals, for organising industrial actions or for publicly speaking about illegalities in companies' businesses.

Government ignores social dialogue: In May 2010 the Government proposed further changes to the Labour Code, recently harmonised with the EU standards, which would allow for an easier cancellation of collective agreements. The amendments were sent to Parliament without prior consultation with the social partners. In order to prevent the amendments, five trade union confederations managed to collect more than 800,000 signatures for a referendum on the issue. Trade unions also temporarily suspended their participation in the Economic and Social Council (ESC) in May, as the Government did not respect the procedure for prior consultations in this body either. The dispute over the Labour Law was eventually resolved through negotiations, but trade unions remain outside the ESC.

Management denies union existence and dismisses shop stewards: The management of Tankerkomerc, in Zadar, dismissed two stop stewards, Danica Lenkic and Matko Perica, without the consent of their union. The management also tried to deny the existence of a trade union organisation in the company, although they had received information on the registration of the Autonomus Union Tankerkomerc in February 2010. In November, the union submitted a complaint to the Municipality Court in Zadar over the dismissal of the two shop stewards and over salary arrears of more than ten months.

Journalists denied right to strike: In the local daily Glas Istre, in Pula, the employer has repeatedly violated the Labour Law and the company-level collective agreement. In August 2010, the Municipality Court ruled that the collective agreement in the company had been illegally cancelled. A strike was legally announced for 7 November. Prior to the strike, the employer exercised pressure on the workers not to strike and engaged journalists from other publications to write for the paper during the strike. As the employer and the strike committee did not reach an agreement on the extent of minimum product maintenance during the strike, the decision was left to the court.

The judge of the County Court in Pula, Ondina Vidulic Matijevic, ruled that the production of newspaper is an activity that cannot be terminated during a strike and issued a working obligation for 20 workers, thus effectively restricting the right to strike for the journalists of Glas Istre. However, in a different procedure, the same court upheld on 29 December the decision of the Municipality Court from August on the illegal cancellation of the collective agreement. The right to strike was also contested at the local radio station Radio 101, in Zagreb, where the management claimed that a warning strike organised on 7 November 2010 due to unpaid salaries was illegal.

Two shop stewards dismissed: Ante Buljan and Branko Norac, shop stewards of the Trade Union of Drivers and Traffic Workers of Autoprijevoz, in Sinj, were dismissed in April 2010 without the consent of their union. Both shop stewards then started a hunger strike. Later that month they were received by the President of Croatia Ivo Josipovic and by the Head of the Prime Minister's Office. In July, the Municipal State Attorney's Office in Sinj initiated a procedure in the Municipality Court against Managing Director Josko Jerkan for the illegal dismissals. An investigation was also under way for a wide range of other criminal activities in the company.

Dismissed for organising a strike: Workers of the brewery Osjecka pivovara in Osijek, Tomislav Topalovic, Tomislav Vranjes and Goran Redzic, were dismissed in April 2010 following a ten-day strike in connection with a dispute over a collective agreement. The dismissed workers are members of the Independent Trade Union of Osjecka pivovara, affiliated to the Croatian Trade Union Association (HUS), which organised the strike. The trade union has filed a lawsuit.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.