EPSU has sent a message of support to the campaign by three Croatian trade union confederations to reverse recent changes to retirement and pension rules.
The unions are mobilising to secure support for a referendum with the aim of retaining a retirement of age of 65 and to stopping the increase to 67 which the government decided to accelerate in legislation approved at the end of last year. The campaign is already underway but formally the unions will have from 22 April to 11 May to collect signatures and they will need 10% of registered voters to back the call. The government will then have to organise a referendum.
The unions are opposed to the retirement age increase arguing that this is wholly inappropriate in a country where life expectancy is three years below the average for the European Union. Similarly, they argue that rather than reduce early retirement benefits, more needs to be done to tackle the low level of employment in the 55-64 age group, making work more attractive and addressing the reasons why employers often encourage early retirement.
The union confederations are angry that there was no attempt by the government to involved trade unions in any consultation or discussion over the changes to pension and retirement rules.
The ETUC is encouraging all its affiliates to send solidarity messages to the trade unions and to write to the Croatian Prime Minister and Minister of Labour to express support for the unions' campaign (see EPSU letters below).