The Basic Collective Agreement will be referred to arbitration after the government and four public-sector unions signed an annex to it on Friday, while the remaining four trade unions refused to do so.
After the document-signing ceremony, Deputy Prime Minister Neven Mimica said that the government would initiate the arbitration procedure next week, so as to determine whether the signatures of the four pubic-trade unions, which represent health, culture and social welfare workers, are sufficient for the Basic Collective Agreement to apply to all public services.
If the arbitration tribunal confirms the validity of the annex, public-sector employees will not be entitled to Christmas bonuses this and next year or to holiday cash grants in 2013. Under the annex, per diems will be reduced from HRK 170 to HRK 150, transport allowances will be lowered and next year's jubilee awards will be paid only to retiring employees. However, salaries will not be cut and there will be no lay-offs.
If the arbitration ruling finds the annex to be invalid, the government plans to initiate the procedure for cancelling the Basic Collective Agreement, which, according to unofficial reports, may result in a 10-percent reduction of salaries.
The unions of primary school teachers, secondary school teachers, university lecturers and scholars, and nurses refused the government-proposed amendments to the Basic Collective Agreement.
Leaders of the other four unions, which accepted the annex, are angry at leaders of the four unions that rejected the deal, saying that in the present time of crisis they were accepting the government's offer to save the Basic Collective Agreement and salaries for their members.
All those who refuse to sign the amended Basic Collective Agreement take upon them the responsibility for any long-term unfavourable consequences for the salaries of public-sector workers and for the entire labour legislation, they warned.