- Published: 10.10.2019.
PM: It's not clear to me why teachers are going on strike
Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Wednesday it was not clear to him why primary and secondary school teachers were going on strike on Thursday, in a month in which they had received two percent higher wages than the previous month.
"In the term of this government the budget of the Ministry of Science and Education has increased by HRK 3 billion, which is quite a big sum of money. If the education reform is a priority, then you support it financially, and that's what this government has done in every possible way," Plenkovic told the press after a regular meeting of the leadership of his Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) party.
He said that the union leaders wanted the government to unilaterally change the regulation on pay indexes, adding that this regulation was not negotiable but one that was adopted by the government. He went on to say that based on the formula agreed by the unions and government together, wages had been raised by more than 11 percent to date, and that at a recent meeting an offer of a two percent increase had been made.
"We offered them a two percent increase for this year and had they accepted it, they would have got an additional two percent. They did not agree to their members receiving an additional two percent on top of the two percent. In the process of conciliation, Minister Josip Aladrovic offered another two percent for next year. My message was that I am offering them two percent, and when we see what is realistic, considering the pressure on the 2020 budget, we will come with what is realistic then," the PM said.
"We discussed these matters for four hours and tried to accommodate them as much as possible in the present context of economic growth and that's why it's astonishing that they are going on strike now," he added.
Plenkovic said that a strike was a legitimate way for the unions to express their will, but wondered if it was purposeful given that the government had shown good will and done all it could. "I don't see the point," he said.
The PM said that the Croatian People's Party (HNS), a junior partner in the ruling coalition, was well aware of the reality of the budget. He said that the HNS had notified him that they would not be attending the meeting and added that they would talk later.
"We are cooperating with the HNS very well. This matter is not insoluble. We have secured three years of political stability in Croatia so that institutions can do their job," Plenkovic said.
PM pleased Croatia has jumped in global competitiveness ranking
Plenkovic said he did not think that the appointment of Inspector-General Andrija Mikulic as the head of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic's campaign team for Zagreb was a conflict of interest.
"As I understand, there was an idea that the presidential campaign should be run by the heads of county organisations. Mikulic is the head of the HDZ's Zagreb committee and Zagreb has the status of a county. It is a technical decision and I don't see any problem with it," Plenkovic said.
Asked about the latest information on the missing seamen from the Bourbon Rhode, which sank in the Atlantic on September 26, Plenkovic said that the Croatian government and embassy in Paris were in close contact with the French authorities as well as with officials in Ukraine, adding that a message had been sent through different channels how important it was to make an extra effort in the search. He added that vessels were expected to be dispatched to the locations where satellite footage showed certain objects in the ocean which could be a raft.
The PM said he was pleased that Croatia had jumped in the global competitiveness ranking. He said that the budget policy showed that this government had a goal.
Plenkovic said that at the meeting this evening the HDZ leadership had taken a formal decision to support the incumbent president in the race for a second term in office, "with the absolute support and consensus of all members in attendance."
Also discussed were proposed amendments to the law on national holidays, remembrance days and non-working days, and the proposal will be unveiled at a cabinet session on Thursday.
Next week, on October 16, the prime minister will submit an annual report on the government's work to Parliament, and in the afternoon a discussion will be held on an opposition motion for a vote of no confidence in Health Minister Milan Kujundzic.