Economic and Social Council (GSV) president Mladen Novosel said on Monday that, of the ten proposed reforms, the unions objected to those of the pension, health care and welfare systems.

Speaking after a GSV session, Novosel told the press that the GSV agreed to the establishment of a tripartite body, comprising representatives of the government, the unions and employers, to encourage collective bargaining in the private sector, with proposals to be ready by June 30.

Asked about announcements by unions of protests if the government did not scrap reform proposals, for example in the health sector, Novosel said all three parties agreed that unions and employers were interested in participating in a health care reform.

The unions are against a reform which envisages a rise in the supplementary health insurance policy from 70 to 89 kuna, said Novosel, president of the SSSH union federation. He said the rise would not make health care better and that unions could not agree to an increase in the participation fee for hospital treatment from 2,000 to 3,000 kuna, or to the reform of emergency health care as are being proposed.

He said the unions believed that health care must be reformed, but by first reforming the system to make it effective and good.

Novosel announced that union federations would observe International Workers' Day on May 1 with protests. He also said that the unions objected to the retirement age being raised.

Health Minister Dario Nakic told reporters they agreed at the session that reforms were necessary, adding that the fundamental goal of all reform measures was to make health care good and available. He said that hospitals had continued to accumulate debts in the first three months of the year and that, without quick and complete reforms, the system was not stable.

Asked if he would scrap the intention to increase the price of supplementary health insurance, Nakic said this was not a popular measure, but that it was imperative in order to provide all citizens with good and available health care. He said Croatia set aside much less for health care than many other European Union member states.

He announced that the hospital health system would be reformed in the autumn.

Croatian Employers Association director general Davor Majetic said employers were a social partner interested in participating in reforms. He said they supported the health reform in order to curb billions of kuna in losses every year.

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