Trade unions, representing both public and private sector workers, laid down their tools on Tuesday as part of a massive nationwide strike in Croatia. Reuters called the brief two-hour strike a warning shot against the Croatian government, which plans to reform current labor rules to make it easier for employers to fire and re-hire workers at will, as well as remove protections that ensure reasonable and consistent working hours. According to Reuters: The unions said the strike, which began at midday, was a signal to the two-year-old Social Democrats-led government that it had to change its economic policy or step down. It is unclear how many people joined the stoppage, but the unions earlier said they expected at least 100,000 people to down tools for two hours. As a sign of solidarity, the public transport in the capital Zagreb halted at midday for five minutes. Local trains across the country were stopped during the strike. The unions have threatened to step up industrial action, including calling a general strike and demanding an early election, if the government does not withdraw the proposals and focus more on growth than austerity measures. Croatia has an unemployment rate topping 22 percent and an economy that has undulated between retraction and flat growth for years. Labor leaders put the blame not on labor rules, but failed government policies that reduce the debt gap at the expense of economic growth. The strike comes on the heels of social unrest in neighboring Bosnia, where massive anti-government protests have broken out against unemployment and government corruption.
Andrew Mortazavi is a Spring 2014 editorial intern. Follow him on Twitter at @andrewmortazavi.