The Pensioners' Union of Croatia (SUH) on Thursday launched a petition, "Vote against the poverty of the elderly", which can be signed in a dozen towns around Croatia and presented to the next government.
SUH is convinced that it will collect 10,000 signatures within a month, after which it will present the petition to the government with precise calculations and proposals even though they are not sure of the amount required from the state budget to cover the costs of their proposals.
"The petition clearly explains our demands. Around 55% or 630,000 pensioners receive a pension of less than HRK 2,000 and we are ranked amongst the three worst countries in the EU with regards to the share of the average pension in the average wage (39%). That is lower than the European threshold of poverty risk which applies to Croatia," SUH leader Jasna Petrovic told a press conference.
One in three Croatians aged more than 65 is poor and Croatia ranks fourth in the EU for poverty of the elderly. SUH wants the next government to recognise the trend of rapid impoverishment of the elderly in Croatia, their material deprivation and social exclusion.
The petition demands an increase in pensions for pensioners who retired after 1 January 1999 and whose pensions were cut by around 19%. Petrovic said the SUH demands a new model for pension indexation and that it was ridiculous that the last indexation on average increased pensions by HRK 5.
SUH also demands the introduction of social pensions for everyone aged over 65 without a regular pension, that this be paid from the state budget, the appointment of an ombudsman for the elderly and that the minimum pension be equal to 50% of the minimum wage.