Labour and Pension System Minister Nada Sikic's statement that collective agreements will no longer be needed once a law on salaries in the public service is adopted on Friday elicited unanimous criticisms from trade unions, which said that the minister did not understand and was out of her depth in her field of work.

The leader of the MHS trade union, Vilim Ribic, said Sikic's statement showed that she did not understand the role of collective agreements. "The minister has shown that she does not understand what her ministry does and I ask her to refrain from statements for a few months," said Ribic.

We again have a situation where ministers are learning their job in their positions and those appointed to head ministries really do not understand the ministries' areas of responsibility, which is irresponsible of Deputy Prime Ministers Tomislav Karamarko and Bozo Petrov, said Ribic.

"It would be as if we appointed someone we were friends with to head, for example, the energy sector," said Ribic.

The situation was the same also with former ministers - former Science Minister Zeljko Jovanovic and Pension and Labour System Minister Mirando Mrsic were appointed to positions they knew nothing about and the only question is whether the ministers will realise that they lack the necessary knowledge and seek assistance or believe that they are omnipotent, said Ribic.

The head of the national union of local and state administration employees, Boris Plesa, said the minister's statement was a "bad interpretation" because collective agreements did not regulate only salary bonuses.

"They regulate the salary base, the wage policy, benefits such as Christmas bonuses, holiday allowances, anniversary bonuses and severance pay, as well as the duration of daily, weekly and annual leave. Does the minister believe that all these issues can be resolved with the Salary Act?" Plesa wondered.

"We are not against rewarding those who work well, but if the wage budget is defined, rewarding someone means having to take money from someone else. We do not support that because it can lead to a further drop in salaries, which is unacceptable from the union and economic point of view," said Plesa.

Police Union leader Dubravko Jagic said he supported the adoption of a new salary act, but warned that there was no other EU country where police employees did not have a collective agreement.

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