The SSSH and NHS trade union federations will mark International Workers' Day, May 1, by staging a protest rally against the government's plans to reform the health and pension systems.

The protesters will gather outside union offices in Zagreb's King Petar Kresimir Square between 10 am and 10.30 am on May 1, and from there they will walk in a procession to the city's Maksimir park, where they will address citizens.

SSSH leader Mladen Novosel said that around 1,000 union activists would take part in the march and that they would be supported by civil society associations.

Commenting on reforms the government is to present this week and submit to the European Commission, Novosel said that emphasis was on pension and health reforms, which he described as being against the interests of Croatian citizens.

"We have to say 'No' to health care only for the rich. Increasing the price of supplementary health insurance will definitely not improve the quality of health care. Increasing the participation fee, notably for hospital treatment, is evidently aimed at scaring citizens and forcing them into accepting a more expensive supplementary health insurance policy, while charging citizens seeking medical assistance at emergency wards will force them to judge for themselves whether they are ill or not," Novosel said.

Commenting on the pension reform and plans to raise the retirement age, Novosel accused the government of what he described as a "from work to graveyard" policy.

"The government is only interested in preventing workers from retiring and being a burden to the state. New employment, new jobs or the unsustainability of the "one worker for one pensioner" system are no longer being talked about," he said.

He also criticised the penalisation of workers who retire early, as well as fixed-term employment contracts and the hiring of workers through agencies, noting that it was only a matter of days when the government would propose the introduction of 'mini jobs', namely hiring workers who would work only one to two days a month and be registered as employed, while having no right to any entitlements.

NHS leader Kresimir Sever said the government's course was not good for workers and citizens, adding that a socially sensitive society must put people before profit.

The protest rally on May 1 will be held under the slogan "People Before Profit".

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