The Association of Croatian Trade Unions during a round table of experts and analysts on Monday expressed its dissatisfaction with the activities of political stakeholders on the Croatian scene and announced a possibility of getting organised politically.
Some participants said that the name of the round table – “Is it time for unions to get politically active?” was inappropriate because it is not a question of whether they should, but what model would be the most appropriate for that.
Sociologist Dragan Bagic believes that the nature of union organisations is political and that variations of relations between unions and political parties exist in Europe and the world. He noted an example of practice in Croatia where some unions actually suggested to their membership which party to vote for. He added that unions should endeavour to impact those who create public policies.
Antun Vujic (Social Democratic Party) believes that unions need not be organised politically and that social democracy was their natural ally regardless of its current weaknesses.
Unions have to advocate the ideology of participation that will attract new generations of workers who have no welfare rights as well as endeavouring to build a social state which has been totally ruined, Vujic said.
Political scientist Berto Salaj believes that unions need to change not just because they are unhappy with politicians but because citizens have lost their trust in unions as they are now. Salaj rejects the idea of unions forming their own political parties.
He recommended that unions should build social power as a counter to economic power similar to the role that non-governmental organisations have particularly with issues like outsourcing in public services and the monetisation of the public roads’ debt and toward political parties that are inclined to these issues.
Unionists Branimir Mihalinec and Vilim Ribic expressed their dissatisfaction with political parties both “left and right”. Mihalinec accused the SDP of completing diminishing workers’ rights over the past four years. He supports the idea of unions establishing political parties that would promote a social state and would have its own independent leadership.