Following a meeting on Tuesday with public sector unions over a 6% base pay rise, Deputy Prime Minister Bozo Petrov expressed his satisfaction that social dialogue had continued, but he regretted that leaders of six unions did not turn up at the meeting.

Petrov announced that the government would endeavour to come up with concrete proposals as soon as possible and expects that that job will be completed together with the unions. We wish to reach an agreement and a constructive solution in a foreseeable time to the satisfaction of the government and union representatives, he said.

President of local and state public servants Boris Plesa underscored that they insisted on the implementation of the agreement on a base pay rise of six percent and that they expect that by the next meeting the government will have prepared a negotiation protocol. We expect it to clearly define how and when the agreement will be realised, Plesa underscored. He added that it was agreed that a protocol be adopted about what matters need to be agreed and to define further steps.

Petrov said that some information had emerged in public, for example that the government supported a 9-hour working day and unpaid lunch breaks, but added that this had not been discussed and that this was not the government's attitude.

He believes that it is not necessary to adopt a protocol until he has once again spoken with unions. There are some clear points in the agreement but then there is the real situation we are all aware of and that is the economic situation we are in, he said. We do not wish to have a hidden agenda, to lie to the unions and promise them a land of milk and honey which might have been done before, but wish to say what is realistic and will not jeopardise the country, Petrov underscored, and added that it was necessary to take into account the unemployed and socially vulnerable.

He did not wish to reply directly whether he would attend, together with the PM, a meeting on Monday convened by the unions which did not attend today's meeting. Petrov said that Prime Minister Tihomir Oreskovic would join the negotiations when that becomes necessary. I want the negotiations to end to mutual satisfaction and expect those unions to return to the negotiation process, he said, adding that the next meeting would be in two or three weeks.

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