Leader of the Istria, Kvarner and Dalmatia Union, Bruno Bulic, said on Tuesday that a demand by the Croatian Employers' Association (HUP) to be allowed to import labour was unfounded and socially irresponsible, stressing that the union backed Labour and Pension System Minister Nada Sikic in objecting to the foreign labour quota proposed by employers.

Bulic told a press conference in the northern coastal city of Pula that HUP's idea was damaging for the Croatian labour force and their families but also for the state in the long term.

He accused employers in the tourism sector that compared to the 1991-1995 period employers had employed only one-third of the labour force full-time while the remainder were retrenched with severance payments.

"In 2015, when physical and financial indicators are far better, these same employers have fewer full-time employees than in 2014, yet they are keeping quiet about that despite the fact that the former government reduced Value Added Tax (VAT) in tourism and health contributions. Employers have not employed more people full-time nor have they raised their salaries, which then were 18% lower than the average wage in Croatia," Bulic said.

He underscored that the responsibility for that situation lay with the Tourism Ministry which "contributed to that situation through inaction." He added that the ministry had paid for a study, "Labour Standards in Tourism", prepared by the Opatija Faculty of Hotel Management, and that in order for the strategy to be launched it was necessary to employ 10% to 15% more workers full-time in the sector.

"That would not then create incapable workers in tourism and guests would not rate Istria as the most unwelcoming region in Croatia as was the case last year," Bulic said.

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