Croatia has been an active maritime nation since the end of the Second World War, giving the country an advantage compared to other Eastern European countries in terms of language, education and international experience.
Shipping is important for the Balkan country as it brings in more than €1 billion, greatly contributing to Croatian economy and GDP. 25,000 of the world’s seafarers are from Croatia, two-thirds of which sail with non-Croatian companies.
The SUC organises the country’s seafarers, and general secretary Neven Melvan says that the seafarer profession is still very popular among the country’s young population. “Social dialogue in the Croatian shipping industry is a priority for us a union, and we are working on improving the quality of the training system to make sure our members’ full potential is realised.”
Croatia is member of the European Union. Currently, EU seafarers often experience social issues when sailing under an EU flag. EU seafarers should have social insurance under the same country as the ship is flagged, but this is often a very slow procedure and as a result in many cases seafarers remain uninsured.
“We employ 8,000 seafarers,” says Mario Zorovic, managing director of CROSMA. “Croatia follows all major conventions and regulations, and social standards for Croatian seafarers are probably among the best in the world. As an employer we want to remain a key social partner and it is important that international standards are followed.”
At the meeting a proposal to equalise EU seafarers with auxiliary staff was discussed. This move would guarantee that the seafarers receive health and pension insurance.
“With 500 new seafarers entering the market every year, Croatia is an important maritime country. The ITF will continue to work closely with the SUC to guarantee good working conditions,” says Stephen Cotton.