okrugli stol izbjeglice sssh Mladen Novosel.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Denis CERIĆ /dc

Refugees do not pose a threat and trade unions must help them integrate in the European society, it was said at a conference on refugee crisis management in Zagreb on Friday.

The conference was organised by the Croatian trade union federations SSSH and NHS.

SSSH president Mladen Novosel said that workers' unions wanted to send a message to European politicians that they should adopt a different approach to the exodus of refugees from the Middle East who travel along the Balkan and other routes in search of a better life in Western European countries. Those refugees are aware that Croatia is not a promised land for them but Croatian citizens have come to their aid readily, said Novosel.

There should be more solidarity at the EU level and countries with greater economic power, which can create jobs for refugees, should become much more involved in dealing with the refugee crisis. Unfortunately, there is lack of new jobs in Croatia, which has a 20% unemployment rate so integrating those people would be very difficult, said Novosel.

NHS leader Kresimir Sever expressed dissatisfaction with the way decisions are made in the EU and the fact that some of those decisions are not respected by some member-countries. Putting up wire fences and closing down borders reveals how fragile the EU is when it comes to concrete problems, he said.

The ongoing refugee crisis was preceded by economic and social crises in Europe and it was already then that migrants were given poorer and less paid jobs, and it is a duty of trade unions to ensure protection for those people and insist on equality on the labour market, Sever said. He added that employers had largely used the crisis to lower the price of labour and restrict labour and social rights, a process that was now becoming more serious with the arrival of migrants and posed a threat to worker and human solidarity.

Sever noted that money from European funds for migrants should be redirected to joint social programmes to help with the social integration of migrants.

The secretary-general of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Luca Visentini, said that more than two million refugees were currently staying in refugee camps in Turkey and that it was not true that no solution could be found for those people or that Europe could not give them jobs and enable their integration.

Appropriate reception quotas should be defined for each member country, but many refuse it, and it is not easy to find a solution in such a situation, Visentini said.

Countries like Slovakia and Slovenia are refusing funds from EU structural funds and are thus refusing the duty to keep refugees on their territory. Such behaviour is ugly and unacceptable, Visentini said, adding that the cost of not integrating refugees increased by the day because they went underground and found jobs on the black market.

ETUC President Rudy de Leeuw underlined the importance of respect for human rights, noting that without the social integration of refugees, it would not be possible to solve that problem.

Related stories

Trade unions to organise protest rally on May 1

May Day: "People before profit!", say unions

GSV takes note of budget proposal

Latest news

Key congressman has 'no evidence' of Trump contacts with Russia

The chairman of the US House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee said he is not aware of any evidence of improper contacts between Russian officials and Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Gambia's new President Barrow fires army chief

Gambia's new President Adama Barrow has sacked army chief Ousman Badjie, replacing him with a presidential military aide.

Star investor Buffett takes a bigger bite of Apple, doubling shares

Stock market guru Warren Buffett on Monday revealed that his investment firm Berkshire Hathaway doubled its share of iPhone producer Apple stocks last month.

Minister: Erdogan not welcome in Austria for referendum campaign

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan should not come to Austria to campaign to Turkish citizens living there ahead of a constitutional reform referendum in his country, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said Monday.

Migrant group: Britain hits 'new low' by deporting grandmother

Britain has hit a "new low" by deporting a grandmother from north-eastern England to Singapore, a migrants' rights group said on Monday.

Turkish judge remands German reporter in custody

A Turkish judge remanded German-Turkish journalist Deniz Yucel in custody Monday, according to newspaper Die Welt, sparking strong condemnation from the German government.

1.4 million people without water after deadly floods in Chile

More than 1.4 million people were without drinking water in the Chilean capital of Santiago on Monday following catastrophic flooding that left at least three people dead.

Serbia PM says no snap parliamentary election

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic said on Monday that an early parliamentary election would not be held simultaneously with a presidential vote, although the state leadership had announced such a possibility.  

Trump touts 'security budget' with 10-per-cent defence spending hike

US President Donald Trump says he will present a "public security and national security budget" that hikes military spending by 54 billion dollars or about 10 per cent.

National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen fined for Roma comments

The founder of France's far-right National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, had a 5,000-euro (5,300-dollar) fine for inciting racial hatred and discrimination confirmed on appeal on Monday.

Croatia-Montenegro relations example for region, says minister

After meeting Croatian Ambassador Veselko Grubisic in Podgorica on Monday, Montenegrin Defence Minister Predrag Boskovic said that relations between Croatia and Montenegro were very good and could serve as an example to other countries in the region.

Over 31,000 South Sudanese flee fighting and hunger to Sudan

Fleeing escalating fighting and famine in South Sudan, over 31,000 people have arrived in neighbouring Sudan so far this year, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Monday.

SDP urges gov't to pull statement making radical turn in human rights

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP) on Monday called on the government to take a position on the Croatian foreign policy's turn in human rights, which it said was initiated by Foreign Minister Davor Ivo Stier, and to withdraw a Foreign Ministry statement on that sent to Brussels.

Police says photoshopped photo of Milanka Opacic motivated by hate

An investigation has proved that a photograph showing Parliament Deputy Speaker Milanka Opacic wearing a shirt with four Cyrillic letters "S" (standing for "only unity saves the Serb", a popular motto and slogan in Serbia and among Serb nationalists) is a photomontage and the police suspect that publishing and distributing the said photo has been motivated by hate and intolerance.

Finance Ministry says didn't analyse HEP's readiness for IPO

The Ministry of Finance on Monday announced that it had not analysed the justification or the readiness of power provider Hrvatska Elektroprivreda (HEP) for an initial public offering with regard to a possible acquisition of Hungarian energy company MOL's stake in Croatia's INA.

Berlin confirms murder of German hostage in the Philippines

Berlin confirmed on Monday the murder of a German hostage by the militant Islamist group Abu Sayyaf in the southern Philippines with Chancellor Angela Merkel condemning the killing as "barbaric" and "abominable".

Syrian refugees arrive in Italy with help from Christian groups

A group of 50 Syrian refugees, more than half of them children, landed in Italy early Monday, entering the country on humanitarian visas obtained with the help of a lay Catholic NGO, Protestant organizations and the Italian government.

Macedonian opposition claims right to assume government

Macedonia's opposition Social Democratic (SDSM) leader Zoran Zaev on Monday said that he expects to take over as prime minister because he has managed to build a majority in parliament.