The leader of the Independent Science and Higher Education Union, Vilim Ribic, and the leader of the Croatian Union of Government Employees, Boris Plesa, said on Friday that the unofficial information from the national statistical office, under which the average GDP growth rate in the last two quarters was 1.99948%, which was below the 2% growth required to activate an agreement between the government and trade unions on a 6% increase in the basic salary, was a trick the government was using to avoid fulfilling its obligation to public and government employees.
In 2011 and 2012 leaders of unions of public and government services signed with the then government amendments to an agreement on the basic salary under which their base pay was to grow by 6% after GDP had grown 2% or more on an inter-annual level for two consecutive quarters This would mean an outlay of some 1.8 billion kuna from the state budget.
It is not clear from the agreement if an average GDP growth rate of 1.99948 can be rounded off to 2% and for now there are no clear answers from the government if the rate would be rounded off to public servants' and government employees' advantage or the government would opt for saving.
Deputy Prime Minister Branko Grcic told reporters that a decision on the matter would be made by the new government in talks with trade unions.
Public Administration Minister Arsen Bauk told reporters that considering the more significant growth of GDP, one should talk about the agreement, adding that whether the base pay increase would happen now or in three months' time was not that important.
Union leaders believe that quoting decimals to avoid to state that GDP growth was 2% is a mere trick the government is using to dodge its obligations.
Union leader Plesa said that his union would insist that the agreement with the government be honoured.
When the agreement was signed "nobody talked about 15 decimals but about 2%," he said.
Later in the day, Labour and Pension System Minister Mirando Mrsic said that he would invite trade unions as soon as possible to a meeting on the possible activation of the said agreement.