MORE THAN A CENTURY
IN THE SERVICE OF SERBIAN WORKERS

•• Opširnije

Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia is a trade union organisation with the longest tradition in Serbia. It was founded on April 27, 1903 by a decision of various professional and local organizations (created in the second half of the 19th century) to associate and establish, for the first time in Serbian history, one trade union confederation - the Workers’ Confederation of Serbia. The main actors in the unification process were the federations of construction, metal manufacturing, commerce and printing workers as well as the Workers’ Association of Belgrade.
In the period between 1903 and 1914 marked by the existence of a rather democratic regime, the Confederation was able to develop its activities, grow and establish its first international contacts. At the same time, the first general strikes were organized and first Trade Union School and Workers’ Cultural Centre established.
However, the conditions for trade union activities between 1914 and 1945 worsened a lot. Two World Wars and regimes often characterized by the antidemocratic behaviour did not contribute to the regular development of trade unionism. Nevertheless, it has to be mentioned that in April 1919, after the creation of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the unions managed to create the Central Trade Union Workers’ Council of Yugoslavia where a quarter of delegates was from Serbia. But the strength of the new organisation was undermined by strong divisions inside the trade union movement, especially between reformists and Bolsheviks, as well as by the attempts of some governments to create their own unions. Still different activities were going on - in spite of frontal attacks on workers, imprisonments and other forms of oppression.
In the period after the revolution (since 1945) the Confederation was transformed into a part of the new economic and social system where it had no possibility to act autonomously. Still, it took part in the process of self–management which for many years attracted the attention of foreign observers as an original form of socialism.
After the dissolution of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia and the Confederation of Trade Unions of Yugoslavia, the Confederation of Trade Unions of Serbia was established as a separate unit covering all workers on the territory of the Republic of Serbia. At the beginning of the 1990’s the adjective “autonomous” was added to its old name signing the definite break with the past and willingness to represent the authentic interests of Serbian workers.
The decisive steps in our history were the affiliations to the World Confederation of Labour in 2002 and the International Trade Union Confederation in 2006. The observer’s status in the European Trade Union Confederation acquired in 2009 marked a new era in our transformation into a modern and efficient union.