The Oldest Union in Croatia

Founded back in 1870 and originally called the Croatian Typographic Society, the Trade Union of Printing and Media Industry is the oldest trade union in Croatia and this part of Europe. Our Union has been operating in a geographical area where several different countries succeeded each other over time, it has worked in different social systems, and continues to operate with the same zeal to this very day.

The Oldest Union in Croatia

After a 20-year struggle to obtain the permission to work from the Austro-Hungarian authorities, the Croatian Typographic Society was founded on July 24, 1870 in the inn “K staroj lipi” in Zagreb. The Society then drafted the “Rules of the Typographic Society for Mutual Support and Education”, the first trade union statute in the region, and Dragutin Kale, a prominent 23-year-old print worker from Zagreb, was elected president. Interesting fact: the representative of the Provincial Government at the assembly was the famous Croatian writer August Šenoa.

The organisation of the first strike started by the end of 1871. On December 18, 1871 the Union handed over their demands to the managers in the form of a document called “The Basis for New Rates”. Since the managers and owners of printing houses did not accept the new work rates, the Union organised a strike that lasted from 13 to 21 January 1872. In fact, in four of the five Zagreb printing houses (Hartman, Albrecht, Dionička, Hühn, Zemaljska), the typographers – every single one of them – simply resigned, showing unprecedented courage. However, the strike was not risk-free: the organisers ended up in prison and the Society was temporarily banned from working. Yet the goals were achieved – the typographers secured a ten-hour workday, a salary increase of 14 forints, and further pay adjustment with colleagues in Vienna and Pest was left to a “mutual agreement”, which came into force already four months later. This was the first time a mutual agreement in terms of mutual regulation of labour relations, today known as collective bargaining, is mentioned in the country.


Regardless of the name it had throughout history, in its work and activities this Union has concluded many collective agreements, often as the first or last ones in changing systems, it initiated industrial actions, court proceedings and other activities, advocated solidarity among workers, and on many occasions promoted Croatia’s position before various authorities. The Union has kept up with the times, adjusted and always taken care of its members.

Finally, the eventful timeline of the Trade Union of Printing and Media Industry shows that precisely this continuity throughout history is the best proof of its utility, necessity and its future. During all this time, the Union could not have survived for its own sake, but because the workers, its members, had to protect their interests collectively.

It’s quite simple. As long as the world goes round there will be work, as long as there’s work there will be workers, and as long as there are workers there will be a need to promote their rights, interests and freedoms. Accordingly, there will also be unions, because the union has always been and always will be nothing other than – an association of workers!