How is it today to be a labourer in Croatia? That's kind of an interesting question, which is strongly connected with the general political state of Croatia, and its identity. If you are going to ask five Croatian workers what they think of their labour rights, you will hear five different replies. And maybe some of them wouldn't be sincere.
Let's try to understand the cause of this situation, which is related to the history of Croatia.

Table of Contents

  1. Croatian labor before the 20th century
  2. Croatian labor in the 20th century
  3. Croatian labor in the 21th century
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Croatian labor before the 20th century

During its long history, Croatia hasn't been independent for a long time. Most of the power in Croatia was held by the surrounding empires, such as the Hungarians, Austrians, Venetians, and Ottomans. This has created different work cultures in different regions. People in one area acquired work habits differently from other areas.

You will notice that people in northern Croatia, those who have been under German influence, have become more industrious than those in the south, by the sea, who are accustomed to a somewhat more comfortable lifestyle influenced by Italian culture.

The second half of the 20th century was marked by the Yugoslavian communist authorities in Croatia. The Communists strengthened workers rights, reducing the influence of the bourgeoisie and other upper classes. Workers at that time were accustomed to a lower intensity of work, thus acquiring laziness.

The end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century was marked by the end of the communist Yugoslavian government, and the creation of a free Croatian state based on democracy and liberal capitalism.
Although the process itself lasted less than 10 years, the mentality of the Croatian workers remained socialist. And that mentality is present in many even today.

Many workers, faced with social inequality caused by liberal capitalism, declare that they are dissatisfied with their working conditions just because their superiors are richer than them.

The unions are constantly buzzing about employers who receive high dividends and give workers a minimum wage. In this way, they actually weaken the status of workers, unnecessarily bringing them into conflict with employers, and making them incapable of taking care of themselves in the labour market. That's the reason Croatia doesn't have a highly skilled workforce, and freelancers are a rarity as well.

I believe that the coronavirus crisis will force the Croatian political elite to address those issues, and finally to say that it is the end of the communist mentality, and the workers must learn to take care of themselves on the global market.

Zvonimr Peran     2020-05-20

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