Trade union federation leaders announce plans for a referendum on the retirement age (Marko Lukunic/PIXSELL) Trade union federation leaders announce plans for a referendum on the retirement age (Marko Lukunic/PIXSELL)

Labor unions argue that 67 is too long for workers to stay on the job and is unfair, given the conditions in which workers have been living during their working years. Union leaders believe they can take this issue to a national vote and plan to collect signatures for the petition April 27 - May 11. 

"We are confident Croatian citizens will sign the petition and will come out to vote in the referendum and that Croatian citizens will finally get to decide about what kind of changes are being made in Croatia," says the leader of the Association of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia, Mladen Novosel.

Croatia does not have the standard of living to force people to work until that age and average life expectancy in Croatia is three years lower than in the rest of the EU, says union leader Krešimir Sever, of the Independent Trade Unions of Croatia.

"Twice as many people in Croatia die of chronic illnesses than is the EU average up to 65 years of age. We are a sick nation, an overworked nation, a poor nation, and a nation that wants to force its people to work to death,” Novosel says.

Under Croatian law, anyone can petition for a referendum by collecting signatures from at least 10% of the total electorate within a period of 15 days.