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130 years of Croatian printing trade union (1870-2000)

Summary

1. Brief Overview of the Origin and Development of Printing Industry

Long before Johannes Gutenberg (1397-1468) invented leterpress bookprinting, similar ideas, only a small step away from the original way of printing, had been sporadically appearing. In spite of this, centuries needed to pass until a man, whose invention the mankind has much to thank for, arrived. With simplicity of a genius, Gutenberg created the most powerful tool for the intellectual work, for the spreading of knowledge and for the exchange of ideas.

Once the printing with moveable types was invented, it spread very quickly from Germany toward the Apennine and Iberian Penninsulas, as well as to France, England, Scandinavia, eastern and western Europe. As early as in 1463, Switzerland had a printing house, Italy followed in 1465, Netherlands in 1469, France in 1470, Bohemia, Belgium, Poland, Spain and Hungary all in 1473, England in 1476, Denmark and Austria in 1482. Croatia and Sweden had their printing houses in 1483, Portugal in 1487, Montenegro in 1493, Romania in 1508, Lithuania in 1522, Iceland in 1534, Serbia in 1537, Russia in 1553, Slovakia in 1560, Belarus in 1562, Slovenia in 1575, Latvia in 1588, Ukraine in 1574, Wales in 1585, Estonia in 1631, Finland in 1643 etc.

Printing spread very quickly, so in 1480 there had already been about thirty printing shops in Germany and twenty years later there were more than two hundred of them. At the same time Italy had about fifty of them. At the turn of the century approximately five hundred printing shops were operating in Germany, about one hundred and sixty of them in France, about seventy in the Netherlands and Spain and twenty seven in Switzerland. It is estimated that at the end of the 15th cetnury approximately one thousand two hundred printing shops were operating in two hundred European cities and that the overall printing production amounted to thirty-five to forty thousand publications, not counting the smallest-type printed works.

Ever since the middle of the 15th century the printed book and printed works in general have sovereignly reigned over all other means of communication.

It would be presumptuous to draw the lines of future civilization forms. We do not know whether the printed book will determine the cultural life of future generations to such a high degree and what the future of the printed work as communication means will be. Perhaps an "end to the printed word" will really happen, as Christophor Evans predicts in the chapter with the same title in his book "Computer Challenge". However, we know for certain that it is impossible to understand the five-hundred-year long developments in culture without considering what a great and truly crucial role printing industry has had in it.


2. Beginnings and Development of Printing Industry in Croatia (1483-1870)

Croats accepted the achievements of the printing craft very early and started developing them further. As early as in the 15th century a number of Croatian writers had their books printed: Koriolan Cippico, Šimun Hvaranin, Nikola Modruški, Jakov Bunić, Karlo Pucić, Juraj Dragišić, Juraj Šižgorić, Matej Bošnjak and others. There were also Croats in the 15th century who were typographers at the same time. The most famous among them were Andrija Paltašić and Dobrić Dobrićević.

In the 15th century books in Croatian language were also published in Italy in the shops of several master typographers: Peregrinus de Pasqualibus, Andrea Torresani and Domian di Gorgonzola Mediolanensis.

The most important year in Croatian typography is 1483, which is also a significant date in our cultural history. In that year the first Croatian book, titled the "Missal According to the Law of the Roman Court", was published in the Old Church Slavic Language of the Croatian Edition.

In 1493 a printing office began operating in Senj, and remained active until 1508. Its publications were mostly Croatian translations of the religious and educational works, which were very popular in Europe at the time.

The second printing office in Croatia was founded in Rijeka by Šimun Begna Kožičić, the bishop of Modruš.

In Zagreb the first printing shop was established in 1527. Nedelišće followed in 1574, Osijek in 1735, Dubrovnik in 1783, Zadar in 1789, Karlovac in 1810, Split in 1813 etc.


3. Formation and Work of Croatian Typographic Association (1870-1920)

After the painstaking, twenty-year-long struggle the Land's Government in Zagreb (within Austria-Hungary) finally approved the Regulations on July 4, 1870. Thus the work of the Croatian Typographic Association, which was the first workers' trade union in Croatia, became legal.

The Constitutional Assembly was held in Zagreb on July 24, 1870, with members of the Pay Office for Sick Workers (52 members) as its founders. The Pay Office for Sick Workers had existed and operated as a substitute for the Typographic Association.

The first president of the Croatian Typographic Association was Dragutin Kale. The main purpose of the Association was "mutual help in education and professional training of workers and the support of sick and travelling comrades", as is stated in the Regulations.

As early as in 1872, Croatian typographers organized their first strike, which lasted from January 13 to 21, while the second strike did not happen until 1892. In the period between the two strikes, the typographers intensely engaged in their humanitarean and cultural work.

With the Government's Act of March 30, 1896, the supervision of the Association ceased, so the Association was able to develop more freely. Soon after that the Permanent Tariff Comission was appointed and the first General Meeting of Zagreb Typographers was held. The Price List, set up at that meeting, was accepted by typographers and print shop owners alike.

During World War I, workers' unions in Croatia all closed down, except for the Print Workers' Union. All trade union organizations resumed their work in 1917.
On December 1, 1918, the Kingdom of Serbia and Montenegro merged with the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (formed after the collapse of Austria-Hungary) into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (SCS), a country which changed its name into Yugoslavia in 1929.

At the Emergency Main Meeting, held in Zagreb on November 21, 1920, Croatian Typographic Association passed a special Resolution by which it agreed to join the Alliance of Yugoslav Printing Workers. The Unifying Congress took place in Zagreb, on December 6, 7 and 8, 1920.


4. Formation and Work of the Alliance of Yugoslav Printing Workers (1920-1940)

The Alliance of Yugoslav Printing Workers – Zagreb Branch began working legally after the Viceroy of Croatia and Slavonia had approved the Alliance's Regulations on March 23, 1921. As early as on May 6, 1922, a new, uniform labor tariff was passed for the whole country.

The Alliance of Printing Workers remained politically neutral; it refused to join both the Independent Unions (under the influence of the Communist Party) and the Main Workers' Alliance (formed by the socialists). It also refused to enter the Croatian Workers' Alliance, which had been founded in 1921 by the followers of the Party of Rights, and which was later taken up by the Croatian Republican Party and in 1941 by the Ustasha Headquarters.

At the Second Regular Congress, held in Belgrade from June 13 to 19, 1924, some new changes and amendments of the Regulations were made, confirming finally that the Alliance and its branches lay on union's industrial basis. This meant that all workers in an enterprise belonged to a single union.


5. Formation and Work of the Croatian Alliance of Printing Workers (1941-1944)

On April 6, 1941 Hitler's forces invaded Yugoslavia by bombing Belgrade. Twelve days later Yugoslavia capitulated and on April 10 the Independent State of Croatia (ISC) was established. The labor organization of Croatian printing workers was "reorganized", i.e. the new Ustasha authorities placed all unions, including the printing workers' one, under their direct control.

When, at the end of 1944, the magazine "Croatian Printing Worker" was not published any more, it was a definite end to the Croatian Alliance of Printing Workers.

During the antifascist battle (1941-1945) many printing shops operated illegally both in Zagreb and elsewhere in Croatia. Seventy-three members of the Printing Trade Union lost their lives as the antifascist fighters and as victims of the fascist occupators and their servants.


6. Printing Trade Unions of Yugoslavia and Croatia (1945-1990)

During the war conflicts (1941-1945) trade unions did not exist as separate organizations on Yugoslav territories (except for the unions of fascist orientation). An exception was Slovenia, where a workers' organization, called "Delavska enotnost", was formed illegally.

On other liberated territories workers were forming councils to restore factory production making it possible, at the end of 1944 and in the first days of 1945, to turn a new page in the history of Yugoslav and Croatian union life. So, on December 31, 1944, at the main convention of workers and employees in Belgrade, the Action Committee for the formation of joint trade unions in Yugoslavia was elected. This Committee was made up of representatives from the prewar labor organizations: Joint Association of Yugoslav Trade Unions (JAYTU), Association of Clerks in Banking, Insurance, Sales and Primary Industries, Association of Yugoslav Printing Enterprises, General Workers' Association and Yugoslav Christian Trade Unions. At the Action Committee meeting on January 1, 1945, a decision was made to recognize the membership of all workers who had been members of either Independent Trade Unions, JAYTU or General Workers' Association. In addition to this, it was emphasized that all assets of the prewar unions now belonged to the new union organization.

Joint Trade Unions of Yugoslav Workers and Employees (JTUYWE) were founded at the all-Yugoslav Conference in Belgrade, from January 23 to 25, 1945, as a new form of union movements in the country.

That Conference set apart immediate tasks for the unions in their struggle for the following: introduction of an eight-hour workday; paid vacation; equality of women and men according to the principle "Equal Pay for Equal Work"; centralization of social security under the management of the state and covering all workers and employees by it; new labor legislation; hygienic and technical safety at work and measures for the protection of young people and students in economy. Therefore, these were the same requests which had been made by the Unions in Europe for about hundred years. A temporary Statute was agreed on and a Main Committee of JTUYWE was appointed. Instead of the prewar fragmentation into several trends of thought, professional division, and even inherited guild fragmentation, joint unions were now formed on the principle of industrial organization. The principle of comprehensiveness, according to which manual and intellectual workers are members of the same union, has been realized. Common principles of voluntariness and financial independence have been achieved in their entirety.

The new, temporary Statute determined the basic issues in organizing and operating the JTUYWE as follows: workers and employees became members of their respective unions, which joined together into the Joint Unions of Yugoslav Workers and Employees. On October 23, 1945, new authorities approved the work of the new union organization in Yugoslavia.

After the First Land's Union Conference had taken place in Split on April 11, 1945, the labor movement in Croatia was revived. At that time Croatian unions had a membership of six thousand workers and employees, mostly from the liberated regions of Dalmacija.

The first Land's Congress of the Joint Union of Yugoslav Workers and Employees for Croatia was held in Zagreb from May 26 to 28, 1946. The action for voluntary membership in Joint Unions followed afterwards.

Printing workers resumed their organizing after the Association of Yugoslav Workers and Employees in Printing Industry had been founded in Belgrade, on February 25, 1945. This Association included workers in the newspaper and publishing houses. A Printing Workers' Support Fund was established as a separate body. In each Yugoslav Republic, a Secretariat was formed as an acting organizational form of the federal Central Administration. Such a Secretariat was formed for Croatia as well in Zagreb on June 10, 1945. The main efforts of the Secretariat were focused on establishing the logistics accross the country.

The entering of the Basic Law on Management of Economic Enterprises (passed by the People's Assembly of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in June 1950) into life had a strong impact on the postion of unions. Namely, there was some wandering in the process of defining and dividing the functions of the unions and workers' councils in factories.

The fourth Congress of the Association of Yugoslav Unions, took place from April 23 to 26, 1959. It marked an important turning point in the status of the unions. Future union politics had to point in two directions: a) strenghthening the trade unions as a social force in the political life of the country; b) a fight for as complete as possible development of workers' self-management. In the Statute, the Association of Yugoslav Trade Unions was defined as a voluntary organization of the entire Yugoslav working class. Fourteen trade unions were formed, among which was a Printing Trades Union. However, in 1963, 14 unions were abolished and six new ones were formed "according to the related industries" of: 1. Primary Industry and Mining; 2. Traffic and Connencitons; 3. Agriculutre and Food Industry; 4. Construction; 5. Service Industries and 6. Social Industries. In the same year the Yugoslav Trade Union of Primary Industry and Mining was founded for Croatia with two Committees within it: a) a Branch Committee for the Printing and Publishing Industries; and b) a Branch Committee for the Paper Industry.

After the new Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia had been adopted in 1974, the status and influence of the Republics in political and economic areas became stronger. Therefore, after the Congress of the Association of Croatioan Trade Unions in 1974 had taken place, the unions were reorganized: 18 new, special (branch) unions were formed all of which were united in the Association of Croatian Trade Unions. In accordance with this, a Constitutional Assembly of the Croatian Trade Union of Workers in Printing, Publishing and Information Industry was held on November 14. The Republic Committee and other bodies were elected, and the renewal and formation of the locals and branches of printing workers began accross Croatia.


7. Croatian Printing Trade Union

The turmoil of political and democratic changes, which spread to Eastern and Central European countries in the early nineties, affected the Repubublic of Croatia as well. Croatia started its journey to transition toward the market economy in an exceptionally difficult situation which arose after its decision to declare the independence and sovereignty, and amidst the consequences of the Homeland war, which Croatia fought to defend the integrity and sovereignty of its territories.

The changes on the union stage inevitably followed. Some unions came out of the monolithic organization of the politically controlled unions, declaring themselves independent. Thus, at its first meeting on June 27, 1991, the Independent Union of Workers in Printing, Information and Publishing Industries, made a decision to withdraw from the Croatian Association of Independent Unions. Working alone, Croatian Printing Trades Union organized several strikes at the end of 1992 and in the first half od 1993, of which the ones in "Slobodna Dalmacija" and in the publishing house "Mladost" had most resounding effects in public. The first strike lasted for five days (during which "Slobodna Dalmacija" daily was not published) while the second one went on for eleven days. In addition to that, after long and painstaking negotiations, the first Collective agreement in the industry was signed on December 2, 1992 and the validity of the Collective agreement for the printing industry was extended until June 30, 1994.

At the meeting of the Independent Union of Croatian Workers in Printig, Information and Publishing Industries, held on June 21, 1991, a decision was made to introduce free legal aid and legal protection for the Union members as one of the most important fields of its activity. This service has continuously operated to this day. Later, on October 2, 1992, a Republic Committee made a decision about setting up the Solidarity Fund and Strikers' Fund, for which a part of membership fee has been taken out and which have been managed by the Managerial board for solidarity funds.

After the Second convention of the Independent Union of Croatian Workers in Printing, Information and Publishing Industries had adopted a new Statute on June 17, 1995, its further work included the First Congress, the very first one in the history of Croatian priting workers (journalists had separated and formed their own union).

At the First Congress a Program Declaration was adopted, and the Main Committee, Statutory Committee and Management Committee for Solidarity Funds as well as the Union President were all elected. Stjepan Kolarić was elected as the Union President.

The Second Congress was held in Umag, on June 9 and 10, 1999. There, a Report on Work between 1st and 2nd Congresses was adopted, amendments and supplements to the Statute were made and a Program Declaration was adopted for the next term. The following new bodies of the Printing Trades Union were elected: Main Committee, Supervisory Committee, Management Committee, Statutory Comission, Management Committee for Solidarity Funds as well as the Union President (Stjepan Kolarić).


8. Meetings of Printing Workers and Publishers (MPWP)

Meetings of Croatian printing workers and publishers (MPWP) have been held annually ever since 1975 (except for a three-year break, 1992, 1993 and 1994, due to a war in Croatia) and have represented a sport and entertaining event. The original idea for this event came from similar events, which had been held on a regional level all over Croatia.

From 1981 to 1989, competitions in work and production were also held in addition to the sport ones. It all began with contests in making posters for the Meetings, followed by the work and production contests in which make-up men, machine compositors, book-printers, bookbinders, proof-readers and typists all took part. The Meetings were organized by the Croatian Printing Trades Union. So far twenty-three Meetings have been held (counting the year 2000) with about thousand participants on average. Today, the Meetings have grown into a popular and well-liked event among printing workers and publishers, and there have also been some ideas to make them international.


9. International Cooperation Among Unions

The roots of international union ties of Croatian printing workers date back to the formation and first decades of the Croatian Typographic Association. A "Contract between Croatian and German Typographic Associations" (Stuttgart, 1883), which determined their mutual cooperation is among oldest written documents on international activities of Croatian printing workers.

A visit of eight Croatian typographers to Sophia, Bulgaria, in 1880 had resounding effects. They were led by Stjepan Timet (then Editor of the magazine "Typography") and were invited by the Bulgarian duke Battenberg to lay the foundations of the printing craft there.

Croatian typographers participated in union conferences in Brno and Budapest (August 1881). In 1910, during the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the printing organization in Zagreb, it was stressed that "Croatian Typographic Association was a member of the international community of book-printing organizations", which comprised eighteen naitonal organizations of printing workers.

It is worth noticing that Mr. Grundbacher, the Secretary of the International Organization of Printing Workers, and Mr. Nemeček, on behalf of the Czech Association of Typographers, were both present at the Emergency Federal Congress in Zagreb in 1928.

International cooperation of Croatian printing workers was mostly carried out through the Republic Council of the Association of Croatian Trade Unions and under the common plan of all professional unions which were united into this Association, and only to a lesser degree independently.

Since its independence, and especially since January 15, 1992, when it gained international recognition, Croatia has appeared as an independent state in all matters as well as in its union work.

The very first official document pertaining to the international labor cooperation of Croatian printing workers was signed with Slovenian Union "PERGAM" in September of 1992, while in 1992 and 1993 the Croatian Printing Trade Union was admitted into the European and International Federation of Printing Workers.

The Croatian Printing Trade Union has promoted the ideas of EGF among those European countries which were not then, and some of them are still not, its members. Therefore, it is no surprise that at the 4th Congress of EGF, in mid-October of 1998, the President of Croatian Printing Trade Union, Stjepan Kolarić, was elected as one of its vice-presidents, and Zorijeta Čorko-Kaiser was confirmed as a member of EGF's Women's Board.

In favor of the affirmation of Croatian Printing Trade Union at the international level is also the International Union Conference, which was organized by the members of the German language group and held in Zagreb on November 23, 1998, and which gathered representatives from 15 national unions. At that meeting a review of the economic situations, union activities and levels of organization in those countries was made. Future actions for the members (mostly from East Europe and Albania) were also agreed on.

On February 20 and 21, 1999 another international conference, with the theme "Croatia and European Integrations", was held in Zagreb.

In the period between First and Second Congresses of the Croatian Printing Trade Union, many bilateral contacts were made with printing workers' unions from individual European countries: Germany, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Italy, Albania, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Romania and Slovakia.

The representatives of Croatian Printing Trade Union have participated in all annual meetings of IGF, with their presence at the 17th Congress of the International Federation of Printing Workers, held in Tenerife in mid-October 1998, being the hallmark. On that occasion Stjepan Kolarić was appointed to the Executive Committee of IGF, which is the highest acting body in a period between two Congresses, and Zorijeta Čorko-Kaiser became a member of the Women's Board of IGF.

The intensity of communication with IGF is proven by the fact that René van Tillborg, the President of IGF, has officially visited the Croatian Printing Trade Union five times. In addition to that, René van Tillborg opened the 21st Meeting in Umag in 1998 while, a year earlier, the 20th Meeting in Umag had been opened by the late Chris Pate.

The delegates of the Croatian Printing Trade Union, led by their President Stjepan Kolarić, participated in the work of the Emergency Congress of the International Federation of Printing Workers, held in Ischia in mid-October of 1999, when over 25o delegates from 115 countries made a historical decision: The existing four members – ITS-FIET (International Association of Salespersons, Clerks, Professional and Technical Workers), CI (Communication International), MEI (The International of Media and Entertainment Industry) and IGF (International Federation of Print Workers) merged into a new International called UNI (Union Network International) with over 16.5 million members. At the IGF's Emergency Congress 13 members were elected into the new Executive Committee of UNI, one of them being Stjepan Kolarić.

Beside René van Tillborg, the following officials have also visited Croatian Printing Trade Union: Finn Erik Thoresen (Norway), Adriana Rosenzwaig (Austria), Detlef Hensche and Kuet Hasdenteufel (Germany), Franz Bittner (Austria), Genadij P. Paroshin (Russia), Tony Dubbins (England), Franois Ballestreo (EGF) and others.

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