Implication des Syndicats dans le semestre européen
Trade Union Involvement in the EU Semester



National Reports

Country Report Croatia 2015 contains superficial and occasionally contradictory analysis of the wage setting system in Croatia, which moreover suffers from terminological and factual inconsistencies, as well as from conclusions which are not founded on verified facts. While tripartite consultations on the review of the wage setting system have taken place in recent months, the report does state that „an inter-ministerial consultation on establishing centralised coordination of collective bargaining in the public sector and state-owned enterprises is under way“, on which the social partners have not received any information. This brings to the conclusion that the Ministry of Labour and Pension System has started to implement the 2014 Specific County Recommendations unilaterally (and that tripartite consultation on the issue, which so far have not resulted with any kind of agreement, have been held for the sake of the form itself.
The data on the wage setting mechanisms contained in the Report draws on the analysis prepared for the Ministry of Labour by three external experts (Nestić, Bagić, Bejaković, 2014), which is in itself rather inconclusive document, containing inaccurate facts and claims that have been disputed by the social partners. The most plausible conclusion contained in the mentioned analysis says that, due to the lack of data, it is not possible to say to what extent the collective bargaining is actually influencing the wage dynamics in Croatia, especially in the private sector. However, the Report does not take into account this conclusion, with the result of failing to stress the significant difference in the collective bargaining practices in the public administration and public services, wider public sector, and private sector (and making it unclear to which of those areas included suggestions refer).
One of the most dubious claims contained in the Report is that „relatively high degree of unionisation in the labour force, combined with an uncoordinated and decentralised wage bargaining system, contributes to the limited responsiveness of wages to changes in the macroeconomic environment“, which implies that the trade unions are an obstacle to meaningful wage policy, instead of being one of essential stakeholders of the process. Besides being unfounded on any presented evidence, the claim is also contrary to recent international research pointing to a decreased influence of the collective bargaining systems on macroeconomic developments.
The conclusion on the high difference between wages in the public and private sector contained in the Report was also disputed by the social partners, as it draws on partial analysis which suffers from faulty use of statistical data and inconsistent use of the term „public sector“ (Nestić, Rubil and Tomić, 2014).
Regarding the labour reforms, Report is positively assessing the reform of the Labour Code undertaken in 2014 (which was focused on flexiblisation of dismissals and use of atypical contracts), claiming it has started to show positive impact. However, there are no available indicators or undertaken analysis to confirm that claim.
The other parts of the Report are written much more objectively and based on facts than the part on the labour market, and rightly point to a wide array of reforms which are much more needed for improving the competitiveness of Croatian economy than labour market and collective bargaining system reforms. This especially refers to the reform of the public administration, overall quality of management in public sector and stabilisation of the overall regulatory framework.
In recent months, there has been limited progress in including the social partners in the consultations on the European Semester mechanisms in Croatia, including drafting the schedule of consultations on key documents to be undertaken through the Economic and Social Council. However, it remains to be seen if the plan will be respected by the Government, as well as if it will remain only a formal exercise. Unfortunately, conclusions presented in 2015 Country Report point to the negative development i.e. what the Government has so far reported to the Commission leaves an impression that the implementation of EU recommendations in the field of labour market policy and collective bargaining system will be implemented unilaterally by the Government. This only further aggravates the problem of the interference of the EU institution in this area (which is under national jurisdiction), as well as of interference of the Government in the freedom of collective bargaining.