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ZAGREB (Reuters) - Croatia has published a "name and shame" list of more than 5,000 organisations which have withheld more than one monthly salary from their employees this year, in an effort to stamp out widespread cheating of staff.

The list of some 5,400 companies and 1,600 individual employers was posted on the tax office's website on Tuesday and included attorneys, kindergartens, churches and convents, a local unit of the Red Cross and many medium-sized companies.

In parts of the Balkans, wages are often the first expense companies freeze when times are tough. Legal loopholes, inefficient courts and poor financial supervision allow firms to skip paying wages, sometimes for months on end.

Since jobs are scarce, thousands of workers regularly work for nothing.

"The real question here is who should be ashamed. The issue of withheld salaries is only a symptom of deep deficiencies in the functioning of the state," the best-selling daily Vecernji List said in an article on Wednesday.

"If the state were functioning properly, no company would have a chance to withhold salaries and there would be no need for such lists."

Croatia, which joined the EU in July last year, has had five years of recession and no growth is expected again this year.

The total value of unpaid bills between private companies, public enterprises and the government stood at around 34 billion kuna (3.5 billion pounds)in March.

Two years ago, the tax office published a list of around 100,000 alleged tax evaders, including companies and individuals. Tax collection has been improving since then, although only gradually.

(Reporting by Zoran Radosavljevic; editing by Andrew Roche)

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The citizens' meeting

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