Thousands of protesters gathered on Saturday in the Croatian capital to protest against planned pension reforms raising the age of retirement and making early retirement more difficult.
Few thousands of Croatian workers and union members gathered in Zagreb’s Europe Square on Saturday to show their bitter disapproval of planned pension reforms.
“Experience the pension! It concerns you too!” [“Doživi mirovinu! I tebe se tiče!”] is the motto of the protest, organised by the Independent Croatian Trade Union, NHS, the Association of Independent Trade Unions of Croatia, SSSH, and the Association of Croatian Trade Unions, MHS.
They are dissatisfied with the proposed reforms, particularly with the increased penalties for early retirement and with the increase to the age limit for retirement from 65 to 67.
Workers and union members from other major cities such as Osijek, Pula, Rijeka, Slavonski Brod, Split, Varazdin, joined the protest.
“If the pension reform passes, all of us will soon have to work until 67! Nurses, construction workers, saleswomen, kindergarten teachers, postmen, deliverymen…,” the invitation to the protest said.
The government on Wednesday sent a package of bills to parliament on pension reform, following four months of negotiations with social partners. Next week, parliament will vote on the changes.
Labour and Pension Minister Marko Pavic said a law adopted in 2014 had set the retirement age at 67, to be introduced as of 2038. Now, after negotiations with unions, a compromise had been reached and the 67 retirement age would come into force in 2033.
“Return the system to [retirement at] 65. Do not further raise the age limit for long-term retirees,” union leader Kresimir Sever said on Wednesday.
“With its pension reforms, the government may be meeting all the requirements set by the European Commission and the World Bank – but clearly Croatian citizens are not that important,” Sever added.
He said unions were already preparing for a referendum on the matter, adding that a signature collection campaign could start within a month.
BIRN – Zagreb