18:34 / 02.07.2021.

Author: Domagoj Ferenčić

Government plans on linking coronavirus aid to vaccination

Friday's meeting of the National Civil Protection Directorate

Friday's meeting of the National Civil Protection Directorate

Foto: Marko Prpić / PIXSELL

Government’s idea of making aid contingent on receiving the coronavirus vaccine has sparked serious concerns among employers, unions and opposition politicians, all whom consider the idea legally untenable, unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Labour Minister Josip Aladrović today commented on government's plan to link coronavirus aid to vaccination, saying that government has to differentiate between those who are participating in the fight against the virus and those who are threatening the health of their fellow citizens and the economy.

"It is highly unrealistic that we will be able to keep pace with these economic measures, meaning stimulating the economy, preserving jobs, working on increasing the GDP in the coming period and ensuring the business can proceed uninhibited, if we have a low vaccination rate. These two elements are on course for a head on collision, and we have to strenuously integrate them," Minister Aladrović noted.

Health Minister Vili Beroš had this to say about the planned measure: "I expect that everyone who has received this aid, will in some way ... I won't say return the favour, but contribute in a manner of speaking to the collective efforts to emerge from the crisis."

Minister Aladrović said that he would discuss the plan with social partners on Monday. However, employers and unions feel that no one can legally be forced to get vaccinated. The director of the Croatian Employers Association Damir Zorić: "I am unfamiliar with this kind of mechanism of coercion. I honestly don't know how I would go about implementing this if you were my employee and did not wish to get vaccinated. I don't know what legal action I could take against you."

"Given that right now vaccination is not mandatory, we feel it is not possible to put workers at a disadvantage with regard to accessing job preservation measures without opening the doors to discrimination," added the advisor to the Union of Autonomous Trade Unions of Croatia for worker's and social rights, Sunčica Brnardić.

The issue also sparked concern from opposition parties on both sides of the aisle in parliament. Social Democrat MP Arsen Bauk: "If the prime minister feels that Croatia should implement mandatory vaccination, then he should propose that to parliament. If he doesn't feel that is necessary, then he should say so. As far as making aid conditional to vaccination, we do not support that. He needs to return back to constitutional and legal ideas."

"This shows that government's lacking policy and communication, and the compromised national civil protection, has resulted in the fact that we now have more than 300 thousand excess doses of the vaccine, and now they want to resolve this problem by blackmailing employers. This is discriminatory, and in my opinion unconstitutional," noted Nikola Grmoja of the center-right MOST Party.

His views were echoed by another center-right politician, Stjepo Bartulica from the Homeland Movement: "Mr. Plenković's decision is at the very least a very controversial one. It will evoke a slew of reactions. And it opens the possibility for discrimination against a large number of people."

However, HDZ Deputy Parliament Speaker, Željko Reiner, was quick to defend the plan: "That the state should hand out money, tax payer money paid in by those who were working the entire time, to those who weren't working, albeit not of their own choice, this is not a human right."

Source: HRT

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