Commenting on the current situation in Smederevo wagon-factory “GOSA”, president of the CATUS Orbovic said that unions had to raise their voice earlier and not wait for problems to be solved “from above”. “If workers don’t get their salaries two or three months and nothing is done, then it becomes harder to find the way out”, he added. According to him, the only solution in such situations is a strike.
A strong message from the meeting:You can not join the EU if you do not respect workers' rights
In Belgrade on April 5-7, 2017 Conference "Strong Social Dialogue and Social Partners: an Added Value for Progress" was organized by the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (CATUS) and European Trade Union Institute (ETUI). Besides two representative trade union confederations (CATUS and TUC NEZAVISNOST), participants of the Conference were trade union representatives from Austria (ÖGB), Belgium (FGTB and CGSLB)...
Acting in accordance with the petition signed by many employees in education, three representative trade unions in the sector – Teachers’ Union of Serbia, Trade Union of Employees in Education and GSPRS Nezavisnost – organised a series of activities meant at improving the status of non-teacher staff having secondary school diplomas, whose salaries are under the minimum prescribed by the law.
Once upon a time, the area of Novi Sad (capital of Vojvodina Autonomous Province) was well known for its textile products. Even today, citizens of ex-Yugoslavia remember the names of then famous factories “Novitet”, NIT, “Niva” and “Fruska gora”, employing almost 5000 workers at the time. Unfortunately, from 1990 to 2010 this number sank to 1000 and it is nowadays only 500!
Our colleague Dragan Mladenovic committed suicide at work place in “GOSA” wagon-factory, where he had worked for 35 years. His death is only a top of an iceberg hiding truth about hard lives of 375 workers who although regularly doing their job, see their wages paid only once in a while. It is obvious that the law was breached, as Slovakia-based company “ZOS Trnava”, which acquired “GOSA” in 2007, has long not been complying with its obligations towards employees and the State.
President of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia Ljubisav Orbović sees social dialogue as “a sweet poison'' which making you believe you are close to the agreement, leaves you empty-handed. “We have a situation where collective agreement is signed and then soon cancelled by the employers' association. Is it a model we strive for? Will it lead us to the EU? Does fraudulent behaviour – “today we sign the agreement, tomorrow we cancel it” – resemble social dialogue?
“Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia considers that the success achieved by the Government of Serbia in the past two, three years produced a solid basis for a significant increase of salaries in the Republic.
Тhe implementation of fiscal consolidation measures, which is primarily reflected in a considerable reduction of budget deficit, reduction of unemployment rate, increase of employment rate and many other positive results, justifies our claim for the increase of...
Fatal injuries at work most often happen in construction, and that's more than 50%, said the Chief of Labour Inspectorate in the Ministry of Labour, Maja Ilić. She reminded that in order to prevent injuries at work the Labour Inspection performed 900 controls in 2016, out of which 29 were fatal, 774 serious, while more than 62 criminal charges were pressed against unscrupulous employers.
Having decided to give one more possibility to workers to whom the employers didn’t pay contributions, the Government let the former postpone their consent until the end of this year. The decision was motivated by the fact that so far very few workers have accepted the deal - although last year they were repeatedly warned that no new postponement was to be expected.
Manager of Chinese-owned HESTEEL steelworks which is based in Smederevo confirmed his company’s intention to invest 120 million dollars this year in modernisation of production and creation of new jobs. He rejected accusation of dumping, a result of European Commission anti-dumping investigation, and claimed the steelworks would sell only Serbian, not Chinese products.
According to unionists and experts, trade union organisations in private enterprises are more of an exception than a rule, and the cause of that practice is high unemployment rate and fear of losing job.
Laws envisage trade unions in companies, but the right to organise them remains only on paper and is practiced mostly by employees in public sector.
CATUS efforts aimed at abolishing the legal “punishment” of those becoming pensioners before reaching the official pension age (65 for men and 60 for women), but having completed the full age of service (40 years for men and 35 years for women), have been warmly welcomed by the public. The claim was put at the agenda of the Social and Economic Council, but it seems that negotiations are all but easy and to predict when CATUS amendments to the Law...
On the occasion of the International Day of Social Justice Serbian unions issued a statement saying that in our country social justice is present only in legal acts while in reality there are only the ever growing economic and social differences. Mechanisms aimed at reducing them must exist but what lacks is a political will, they say.
For the past years the position of employees in the public sector has been made more difficult by the practice of prolonging the validity of contracts for temporary and occasional jobs ad infinitum. In neoliberal Serbia that type of contract proved to be the best way of hiring new workers where they are needed.
In Serbia, people who are more than fifty years old and happen to lose their job mostly have trouble to find a new one, say the analysts. The worst is, they add, that the definition of the “elder” increasingly covers even those who are far under fifty.
Employers in Serbia increasingly keep workers at work place longer than eight hours. During last year the biggest number of complaints related to overtime work came from those working in wholesale and retail stores, construction, agriculture, food and catering industry.
In the unions they point out that overtime work usually exists in private sector, but it is also present in public sector and state administration.
In a joint statement three representative teachers’ unions protested against the fact that despite the recent 6% increase, salaries in the sector were still legging behind the national average – and announced the possibility of organising a new joint strike. Unions explain that while the national average salary is 45767 dinars per month (369 euros), the average salary in education is only 42320 dinars (341 euros) i.e. 8% less. It is scandalous that after the recent salary increase workers who only have basic or middle education still don’t reach the minimum (181 euros) guaranteed by the law!
Registration of the autonomous trade union organization in “Geox Vranje” lasted almost four months and is the proof of trade union's successful work in the factory, said Ružica Stošić, president of trade union council. The activities dedicated to the establishment of the company trade union organization, which finally proved its representativity by affiliating around 350 members, already began in July last year following the growing interest in affiliation, she emphasized.
In FCA company the compulsory winter leave has finished and the employees returned to shop floor.
Autonomous trade union organization in Fiat isn't satisfied with the situation in factory, but hopes for the best. Its president Zoran Marković says he isn't satisfied with the fact that last year one of the three shifts was cancelled and there were many non-working days. “During 2016 there were 80 such days and workers were on paid leave.
Till the end of March around 68,000 employees in public utilities in Serbia are supposed to receive assistance in the amount of minimum wage, which is 22,620 dinars. As we have learned, the agreement made between trade union members and the Government is to be confirmed by the presidents of municipalities where these companies run their business...
After a vote in the National Assembly which considerably increased the role of private capital in all 15 public utilities, Serbian citizens lost sovereignty in another part of public domain. In order to realise its strategy of privatising everything, our neoliberals resorted to concessions and public-private partnership...
While both giant furnaces in the steelworks bought by the Chinese “He steel” are working, the demand for its production is constantly growing, says Sinisa Prelic, President of the CATUS company trade union organisation. In order to satisfy clients, management decided to employ few hundred new workers, he adds and announces the contest at the end of January next year.
At the ETUCE (European Trade Union Committee for Education) Regional Conference held in Belgrade on December 6-8, 2016, the European education trade union movement defined the unions in the sector as a key factor in the implementation of policies leading to quality education. More than 350 delegates from 131 national education trade unions, from 48 European countries debated...
According to data presented at the last Executive Committee session of the Trade Union of Construction Workers and Industry of Construction Materials (member of CATUS), that sector seems to be the most dangerous segment of Serbian economy, as in 2016 17 out of 32 fatal accidents (i.e. 53 %) happened there. Particularly irritating is the fact that half of the workers who lost their lives worked without any legal contract.
The amendment on automatic prolongation of fixed-time contracts for workers who are ill (until the day they can go back to work) was proposed by CATUS and applauded by the public. It was inspired by the case of a young “Yura” worker (and single mother) suffering from cancer who was fired while in bed, in the middle of therapy.
Faithful to its anti-labour policy, the Foreign Investors’ Council (FIC) is now pressing for longer fixed-term contracts, which instead of maximum 24 months should last up to 36. Although the Council made considerable effort to convince experts and Government about the usefulness of its proposal, so far the comments have been rather negative. Most critics agree that such move would foster only the interests of employers without bringing any benefit to workers or the Government.
Criticizing the attempt of Macedonian Ministry of Labour and Social Care to replace by force legally elected President of the largest country’s confederation (TUCM), the CATUS fiercely accused Government’s interference in trade union affairs and its arbitrary decision on who would represent the workers best.
Members of three representative teachers’ unions are participating in a warning strike that should affect more than 1,500 schools all over Serbia. The Union of Employees in Education of Serbia chose to shorten lessons from 45 to 30 minutes, while the CATUS affiliate TUC (Teacher’ Union of Serbia) and Serbian Trade Union of Education decided to cancel the first lesson in the morning and afternoon shift.
Cancellation of yet another collective agreement in the sector of construction caused huge dissatisfaction of trade unions. The Employers' Association again demonstrated that it's not interested in collective bargaining and social dialogue. By a unilateral cancellation of a third party which didn't even participate in negotiations, the mere act of negotiating and signing proved to be futile.
At the Square of the Republic in Belgrade representatives of the CATUS signed a petition asking for May 18 to be proclaimed a Memorial Day for Women, Victims of Violence. Petition was signed by Duško Vuković, CATUS Council Vice-President, Zoran Mihajlović, CATUS Council Secretary, Dragana Đorđević, President of Trade Union of Culture of Serbia and Presidency member of Women Section and employees in the CATUS Council. The initiative for signing the petition was taken by the Autonomous Women Center, Network of Women against Violence and Women Association ’’Peščanik’’
Serbian Government has recently made a decision to grant a few per cent increase to employees in public sector, but “forgot” to cover those working in public utilities whose work conditions are very difficult and salaries extremely low. The Union of Employees in Public Utilities and Housing has been trying to reach the Prime Minister and come to the agreement on the subject, but so far there has been no success.
Inspired by positive examples from some EU countries, CATUS has decided to spread knowledge on trade unionism among the secondary school pupils. The philosophy underlying that move is that it is never too early to start teaching kids about the importance of social justice and its role in the establishment of stable democratic systems. One supposes they will go on acquiring that kind of knowledge during their university studies or the apprenticeship and one day become full union members.
Thousands of pensioners gathered the day before yesterday at the rally, organised by the Association of Pensioners’ Trade Unions of Serbia (APTUS), ready to protest after being humiliated by the Government which decided to pay them out a one-off aid (amounting to 5000 dinars i.e. 40 euros) and increase pensions by only 1-2 % from January 2017.
ITUC and ETUC have urged our Minister of Labour to respect the ILO Convention no. 98 and European Social Charter, and safeguard the implementation of collective agreements signed some time ago. They reminded Mr. Vulin that the Convention affirming the right to organising and collective bargaining had been ratified by Serbia on November 24, 2000 and warned him...
Can we talk about social dialogue in Serbia when there is a huge difference in power balance between social partners? – this is a fundamental question of real functioning of the dialogue which was agreed by participants in the meeting entitled ''Social dialogue – worker's illusion or true reconciliation of labour and capital”.
On October 19 in Belgrade a round table „Collective agreement – reality and vision“ was organized by the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia and Autonomous Metal Workers Union of Serbia with the support of Solidar Suisse-SLA.
Talking about the effects of (non)implementation of legal decisions, as well as current situation in the real sector and tendencies in the sphere of branch collective bargaining, it was pointed out to a worrying fact that only one branch collective agreement in road maintenance industry was given...
After the Association unilaterally decided to suspend collective agreement negotiated with unions of workers in agriculture, food and tobacco industry and waterworks, the CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost published a letter in which they say they are ready to demand the verification of employer organisation’s representativity.
From September 25 to October 2 this year seven workers lost their lives because the law wasn't respected, warned the Minister of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Issues, Aleksandar Vulin.
Three biggest teachers’ unions, led by the CATUS Teachers’ Union of Serbia (TUS), sent a letter to the Ministry of Education protesting against the violation of the Law on Personal Data Protection and Labour Law. Namely, a few days ago the Ministry suggested to school principals to make lists of employees who were unionised. This was done under the pretext of completing the Ministry’s database.
Although the functioning of temporary work agencies has not been fully regulated yet, a certain number of them have already been working in Serbia. Due to the difference of interests, the opinions on the subject diverge greatly: employers are fascinated by them, experts try to justify their existence while the unions cannot hide their concern.
President of the CATUS company trade union organisation in the steelworks, Sinisa Prelic, one of the co-signers of the new collective agreement made with Chinese employers, gave some interesting comments on the nature of the negotiation process. Saying that talks were generally “correct and constructive” he disclosed that “big pressures from within and without” were exerted with the aim to “eliminate” unions from the He Steel.
Representatives of three unions in “Smederevo Steelworks” (CATUS, TUC Nezavisnost and ASNS) have signed a collective agreement regulating work relations of about five thousand company workers. The document has been countersigned by Mr. Sihai Song, General Director of “HeSteel”, Chinese giant that acquired steelworks not long ago.
Following the intervention of the CATUS and the action undertaken by CGIL and IndustryAll, the management of GEOX factory in Vranje has finally agreed to give chance to social dialogue as the best means for solving industrial disputes. Ruzica Stosic, President of the Regional Trade Union Council has been rather optimistic when speaking about the company director’s letter in which he positively responded to union’s claim to start organising workers.
In last few months, workers often complained to municipal trade union council in Vranje (South Serbia) about different violations of labour and trade union rights in the factory owned by famous Italian footwear-producer “GEOX”. Too many of them got only minimum wage, extra hours were not paid, people often worked without a labour contract, norms were too high and dismissals too easily given...
Without bothering with a possible consternation of the public, Serbian Prime Minister Vucic has recently said he didn’t understand the meaning of the term “exploitation”. Commenting his words the expert for industrial relations Professor Miodrag Djordjevic explains in Serbian daily “Danas” that a statement like this is just another attempt to keep the delicate issue of workers’ real status out of political debate.
The increase from 121 to 130 RSD (from 1 to 1.065EUR) was decided at the last session of Serbian Social and Economic Council but is still to be confirmed by the Government. The new mimimum wage per hour will then become official on January 1. At that moment its monthly amount will rise up to 22,620 dinars (185 EUR). According to trade union estimates, the minimum wage is currently paid out to 300,000-350,000 workers.
Announced increase of minimum wage will cover only the employees who receive the lowest wage, from 23.000RSD to 24.000 RSD a month. This increase isn’t to be seen as an introduction to a general wage growth, but as a help for workers with the biggest problems and those who are the most vulnerable, says for Serbian daily „Politika” Ljubisav Orbović, President of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia, who yesterday within the session of the Social-Economic Council started negotiations on the subject.
In last few months the tension between teachers’ trade unions and the Government has been constantly growing, the main reason being the non-payment of sums (100 euros in total), unlawfully taken away from teachers’ wages during summer holidays in 2013, 2014 and 2015. The culmination came with an open threat directed to the Ministry of Education whereby the unions announced their intention to strike if their demands were not satisfied until September 20.
The journalist in question is Sanja Klaric, an ex-employee in Vojvodina Radio and Television (RTV) who decided to quit the company because of her bosses’ unacceptable behaviour. The censorship intensified in last three months, she says, but the culmination has come with the ban put on her coverage related to workers’ rights.
According to the results of research covering 3500 Serbian enterprises, more than a half of employees in Serbia (60% of them) would gladly quit their jobs because of mobbing, low salaries and unprofessional managers, but are afraid that afterwards they would not be able to find work.
‘Many would gladly quit, but they say they haven't got an alternative.
Recently the negotiations having for subject the stalemate in social dialogue in various sectors, which has been burdening our economy for many years, have taken place in Belgrade. Representatives of unions (CATUS and UGS Nezavisnost) and employers (Union of Employers of Serbia) have agreed that the absence of collective agreements in
In the last few years, Serbian public sector was one of favourite targets of our neoliberal Government and the IMF. Currently, there are 579,000 employees working therein - 330,000 in ministries, 116,000 in local government and 133,000 in public companies. The most populated are the ministries of education (130,000 employees), health (110,000), interior (42,000) and justice (17600).
It seems that in the last few months the employers changed their rigid attitude on minimum wage increase and are ready to negotiate the subject with the unions who immediately put out their claim (24, 000 dinars i.e. round 200 euros per month). Nobody knows why the employers changed their habit of avoiding any talk on the subject but the fact is that negotiations should start very soon.
Trade unions estimate that there are at least 450,000 workers in Serbia who are either unregistered or have their contributions paid only on the amount of the minimum salary. Most of them work in our companies but there are also foreign employers who follow the example of their Serbian colleagues.
Practically since September 2005 there have been problems in the implementation of branch collective agreements. After the amendments of Labour Law in 2014 terminating the validity of all collective agreements starting from 29 January 2015, only one branch collective agreement, namely the one covering road maintenance industry workers, was granted the extended effect.
After a short visit to Turin, in vain did Prime Minister Vučić promise that FIAT would stay in Serbia. President of FCA company trade union in Kragujevac Zoran Marković ''bitterly replied that social program was finished".
The decision to receive severance pay and leave the factory was made by 700 workers. Precisely speaking, out of 3,200 workers 2,500 will stay. He added the payment would start on July 28 and the amounts would go from 4,800 to 14,000 EUR.
As it is well known, Serbian Government reduced pensions by 20% through a non-constitutional decision. Extensive survey of the Association of Pensioners' Trade Unions of Serbia on the effects of that decision on everyday life has shown bitterness of the eldest citizens who, at this time of unemployment and low wages, support members of their families in 63% of cases.
Representatives of the ILO visited social partners’ organisations in Serbia in order to present new project entitled “Platform for employment and social issues”. The project was initiated in Sarajevo during the conference held at the end of July 2016 and had encompassed six countries of Western Balkans.
The time has come to make the green employment one of central issues on Serbia’s economic agenda. It would be a good solution to the problem of unemployment, as 300,000 youngsters up to the age of 30, who currently do not have a job, could finally find it. The green economy would also improve the energy efficiency and thus enable us to make considerable economies.
After abolishing the third shift, in "Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Serbia'' 700-900 employees and around 600 workers in companies-subcontractors will be left without a job, 1,500 employees in total. At the joint meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić, FIAT management promised that the company would continue working and in Kragujevac there would be new investments enabling the employment of 1,000-1,500 people.
Good news came to us a few days ago: Trade Union of Policemen, Trade Union of Employees in Armed Forces and Trade Union of Employees in Judicial System signed an agreement on cooperation, which should enable them to stand more efficiently for better working conditions of their members. At the ceremony, the President of the TU of Employees in Judicial System, Sladjanka Milosevic, defined Serbian Government as...
Workers' representatives are waiting for the new Government and have already prepared their demands. They are aware that (following the results of the last elections) there will be people with almost same ideas, but they still hope to have success in fight for their new/old demands. First they will try to realise them through negotiations, but if they don't succeed – they are ready to threaten with strikes.
In Belgrade the Association of Pensioners’ Trade Unions organised another round table on poverty and discrimination of old people. In the introductory speech, its president Vujasinovic emphasized once more the difficulties that 700,000 pensioners whose pensions were reduced by 20% are confronted with, and reminded that the lawsuit against the Government’s unconstitutional decision was soon to be sent to the European Court for Human Rights.
Minimum wage has not been changed for three years and it seems it's not even going to be increased till the end of 2016. Trade unions started the initiative for increasing it in February, but parliamentary elections disabled trade union representatives from doing this in an urgent procedure. Now we're waiting for the formation of a new government, which will determine whether the increase of 19 dinars per hour is justified or not.
The production was stopped from May 30 to June 1 because the demand for cars at European and international markets had decreased. More than 3000 workers were sent to paid leaves while receiving only 65 % of their regular salaries. They were back on Thursday, June 2.
As time goes by and Serbia gets closer to the EU, it is obliged to adapt itself to all European rules of the game and establishment of employment agencies is one of them. Their functioning, however, has not yet been regulated, which makes some of the toughest forms of workers’ exploitation persist.
It seems that Chinese company “Hi Steel” which acquired “Smederevo Steelworks” has by no means obliged itself to avoid dismissals. Unofficial sources say it refused to put anything similar into the contract it signed with Serbian Government and wants to discuss the issue directly with trade unions.
Teachers' Union of Serbia (TUS) reminded Prime Minister Vučić that in March he promised the payment of one time help to all employees in schools, dormitories and pre-school institutions. "Having in mind the fact that holidays are approaching and that Prime Minister stated the situation in the budget had never been better – employees could receive a one time help higher than 7.000 RSD which were paid last year'', this trade union announced.
We have already written about the unacceptable behaviour of the South-Korean company’s management treating its workers as semi-slaves. It could not pass unnoticed and soon we had an avalanche of reactions related to the issue. The most important was the one coming from Serbian Minister of Labour, Vulin, who since then has been actively mediating in finding a peaceful solution to the conflict.
At the end of last year, confronted with a possibility of a large strike and social conflicts, Mr. Vucic promised to the employed in judiciary system and police an extra, one-time aid. The promise to pay 20,000 dinars (163 euros) by two installments was the direct outcome of a meeting he had with representatives of Trade Union of Employees in Judiciary System of Serbia. However, five months later his promise is still to be kept.
President of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia, Ljubisav Orbović said that besides unions, state as the guarantor of the respect of Constitution and national laws should also be included in the realization of basic workers' rights in Serbia.
He mentioned the behaviour of the management of South Korean company „Yura“ in Leskovac, where from the very beginning the workers have been treated badly, without the respect of their basic, not only work, but also human rights.
CATUS Regional Office in Kragujevac sent a stern warning to the Minister of Labour, Vulin, requiring him to prevent the violation of rights of unemployed disabled persons. Reminding him that it is highly incorrect to economise at the expense of the poorest part of the population, the unionist denounce the passivity of the Ministry in relation to the scandal that has recently caused great public discontent.
President of the Autonomous Trade Union of Smederevo Steelworks, Sinisa Prelic and President of the Association of Free and Independent Trade Unions, Sasa Coli, estimated that the arrival of Chinese He Steel was a success of Serbian Government and country in general.
One of the reasons why Serbian salaries are among the lowest in the region is that we have many workers who work but are not paid at all! This is the result of a research professor Marinkovic has recently analysed in an interview with our popular daily newspaper.
According to the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, there are 50,000 such workers, but trade unions’ evidence prove there are many more of them.
The rally was organised in order to additionally sensitise Serbian public opinion to the ever-worsening life conditions of the old population. For another display of solidarity and mobilisation capacity, the organisers have chosen the central City square of Nikola Pasic. Aware that the elections approach they found it utterly important to send their messages and make contending parties explain beforehand their position on the ways the pensioners would be dealt with in case they came to power.
In Belgrade President of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Austria (OeGB), Erich Foglar talked to the Presidents of Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia, Ljubisav Orbović and TUC NEZAVISNOST Branislav Čanak about a current situation in the two countries and trade union activities.
In recent years OeGB has fully supported representative trade union confederations in Serbia in strengthening social dialogue, developing regional...
In the future working day for the employees in Serbia could last seven hours if employers and European governments accepted pressing trade union demands to shorten working hours from 40 to 35 hours. Representatives of our labour associations are ready to support this initiative and think it would be 'a positive step towards overcoming the problem of unemployment'.
To answer this difficult question a meeting was held in Belgrade, on March 24, under the slogan “Social Dialogue in Serbia: From Demagogy to Stable and Effective Practice”. The number and structure of participants was rather impressive – Head of Serbia's team for negotiations with the EU, Tanja Miscevic, representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, of the Social and Economic Council, Employers’...
The Autonomous Trade Union of Employees in Commerce initiated a campaign for work-free Sundays and made public its intention to send its demands to Serbian Parliament and Government.
At the press conference organised jointly with representatives of Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the ATUEC President, Topalovic, quoted Serbian Labour Law, which clearly states ''that Sunday is a work-free day''
One of the CATUS priorities has always been the struggle for increase of minimum wage. In his latest statement, the CATUS President Orbovic declared that according to trade union estimates it should be 140 dinars (1.14 euros) per hour. He added he was aware that technical Government established in the times preceding the elections could not...
On behalf of employees in public sector, CATUS sent a letter to mayors and deputy mayors of all Serbian municipalities demanding from them to postpone the enforcement of Law on Maximum Number of Employees in Public Sector. The demand relates primarily to the part of the Law dealing with the assessment of number of redundant workers and their dismissal.
“It is of key importance to find a strategic partner for our company, as it will heavily influence the future not only of our workers and the city, but of Serbian economy, too”, said the President of the company trade union organisation in Steelworks (affiliated to the CATUS), Sinisa Prelic, while hearing the news about a new call for tenders.
Leaders and members of the Autonomous Trade Union of Workers in Road Maintenance (affiliated to the CATUS) are joyfully celebrating the signing of the agreement and Government’s decision to extend its validity to the whole sector. What is especially flattering is the fact that in industrial domain nothing similar has occurred so far.
At the last session of Social and Economic Council, unions’ representatives denounced mass mobbing and frequent attempts to prevent workers from unionising. “We have received thousands of complaints from people who were subject to mobbing or were dismissed after - or even before - registering a union at the work place” said CATUS President Orbovic at the press conference held after the session.
CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost sent a joint letter to the Economic and Social Council demanding the increase of minimum salary to 140 dinars per hour. They are not satisfied by the fact that determining its amount for 2016 the Government did not respect criteria stipulated by the law, nor taken into consideration any of unions’ claims based on well-sounded arguments and measurable data.
The agreement was signed in the premises of the Employers’ Association on February 10 by Association’s President Raznatovic and Presidents of construction workers’ trade unions affiliated to CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost, Torlakovic and Dimitrijevic. Its particular importance lies in the fact that construction business with its 70,000 workers and new, ambitious Government projects is one of the biggest and most promising sectors of Serbian economy...
The unions are of the opinion that the new Draft regulates the status of employees much better than the previous ones. All unions’ demands concerning supplements for hot meal and vacations have been accepted. Minister Udovicki confirmed that the amounts for hot meal and vacations would be defined separately and not make part of total salary, but insisted they would be strongly dependent “on Government’s possibilities”
Crucial session of the Social and Economic Council (SEC) having on the agenda only the problematic new Law on Salary System of Employees in Public Sector started on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. What was conspicuous was the presence of Prime Minister Vucic and several other ministers, usually rather busy campaigning for new parliamentary elections which are to be held in April or May this year.
A threat has become reality and unions of employees in public sector, members both of CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost, organised a joint one-hour warning strike to protest once more against the Government ignoring their amendments to the Law on Salaries in Public Sector.
Representatives of CATUS, TUC Nezavisnost and Employers’ Association of Serbia signed the new collective agreement covering workers in agriculture, food/tabacco industry and waterworks. The special importance of this event comes from the fact that in last ten years, due to employers and Government’s rigidity, there were just few new collective agreements signed.
Public federations of CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost are ready to use all instruments of trade union struggle, including strikes, to defend the draft of Law on Salaries in Public Sector already approved by Serbian Social and Economic Council. The effort used in making the draft, which is the result of various compromises, should not go in vain and Minister Vujovic’s intention to amend it on his own should not be allowed.
The strike was organised on Monday in order to prevent mass dismissals announced by the Government. More than 1300 employees hired on fixed-term contracts will lose their job if the new law maximizing the number of employees in different parts of public sector is implemented. The unions have been claiming that even the current number of workers in judiciary system is too small, as more than a million court-cases are still to be decided!
Seven unions representing the employees in public sector have expressed their discontent by the new draft of Law and criticized the way the negotiation process was conducted. According to them, the new law would downgrade the existing collective agreements and Labour Law, especially those parts dealing with severance and long service payments, hot meals, vacation supplements, different compensations etc.
The CATUS criticism was expressed by its Vice-President Vukovic who emphasised the fact that its adoption would go directly against the country’s Constitution. For unionists, the draft is too restrictive as the Government’s freedom to ban public assemblies goes far beyond the one granted by the highest legal act.
The decision was made as no satisfactory takeover bids were submitted. It means that at least for the moment, the company has been saved from the privatisation process that threatened to deprive the public sector of one of its most profitable parts. It turned out that the amount proposed in the bid was not sufficient.
Unlike other sectors the culture was not covered by the Government’s decision granting a slight salary increase for all employees in public sector. Besides, nothing was done substantially in order to improve the status of cultural institutions and employees working there. The worst, however, is that if a new law on wages in public sector were adopted, their salaries would go down!
A public debate on future of our public utilities has recently started and will be decisive in defining areas of public interest, possible actors and degree of private participation in this domain. The new law on the subject should also fix prices of their services, as well as the position and wages of those working there.
Not long ago Serbian Government took decision on considerably diminishing the number of employees in public sector, who currently amount to 514, 573. 14,512 workers will be dismissed (out of them 3,100 had already been sent to retirement in September and more than 1,500 are to follow them until the end of this year).
The visit to China paid by Serbian Government’s delegation and headed by Prime Minister Vucic might provoke some optimism among our workers as some important contracts on investments, infrastructural projects and strategic partnerships were signed.
Visit of Carla Cantone, FERPA’s Secretary General and Livio Melgari, its International Secretary to the CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost pensioners’ unions was a real event followed by great publicity. Not long ago our unions became full members of FERPA, which contributed a lot to their strengthening and reputation. Karla’s visit was aiming principally at tightening the existing ties and fostering future cooperation.
Today, in front of the building of French Embassy in Belgrade CATUS representatives laid flowers and lighted candles for those killed during terrorist attack in Paris. The whole country is mourning, main buildings are illuminated with the colours of French flag and a great number of citizens are coming to sign the Memorial book.
Teachers' Trade Union of Serbia said it wasn't satisfied with the amount of short-term aid provided by the Government of Serbia. Its president Branislav Pavlović says there would be less dissatisfaction if instead of 7,000 dinars (around 58 euros) the aid amounted to 10,000 or 15,000 dinars (in other words 83 or 125 euros).
Mr. Vucic’s statement about pensions and salaries in public sector, where he promised their increase after January 1, 2016, already provoked a big wave of criticism. The turmoil was caused mostly by the fact that the increase would be extremely small i.e. only 1.25% for pensioners and 4% for employees, which a fair part of the public sees as a mockery (one has to consider that months ago pensions and salaries were considerably diminished - by the entire 10%).
On Wednesday the two biggest trade unions in Serbian “Telekom“ (one of them affiliated to the CATUS) organised a rally in front of the Government building, demanding the immediate suspension of the privatisation process. In a message addressed to the public, they said they were convinced “Telekom” was a good and successful company, so to privatise it would be a “historic mistake”.
It seems that Serbian Government has decided to curb most of citizen and trade union rallies as the new version of the Public Assembly Act is much more severe than the previous one. And rather problematic, as it seems to be contrary to the country’s Constitution, mostly for introducing additional, unconstitutional justifications of Government’s possible restriction of the freedom to assemble.
By saying that “in spite of a positive signal coming from the IMF he will not allow the increase of wages and pensions” Mr. Vucic enraged Serbian pensioners and made their Association (a member of CATUS) issue a statement in which it expressed its deep consternation and bitterness.
The amount will be negotiated during talks between Prime Minister Vucic and Presidents of main teachers’ trade unions that will take place on November 2. It should be paid-out to around 108,000 teachers somewhere between 20 and 30 November. This was said at the press conference that leaders of four biggest unions organized in order to explain recent events and announce their further moves.
On October 22, soon after a draft of a new law on salary system in public sector was made public, trade unions of employees in state and local administration, judicial system, education, health care, culture, research and kindergartens signed a joint statement declaring that:
Shocked by the attempts of making the self proclamed “Republic of Kosovo” a UNESCO member, the Autonomous Trade Union of Culture of Serbia (TUCS) sent a letter of protest to Chairperson of UNESCO Executive Board, Mr Mohamed Sameh Amr. Here is the full content of the letter signed by President of TUCS, Dragana Djordjevic:
Production lines in famous “FIAT-Chrysler Serbia” car factory in Kragujevac were restarted on October 15 enabling 3000 workers to return to their work places after a week of forced leave. The reason for stopping the production was the lack of demand for FIAT 500-L (a five-seated mini people-carrier) on American market. Management’s decision also affected numerous SMEs cooperating with FIAT by supplying spare parts.
CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost have recently sent a letter to the Ministry of Labour urging it to start immediately solving the problem of those employers who do not pay their workers nor provide them with payslips - duties clearly stipulated by the articles 12 and 121 of Serbian Labour Law.
It seems that Serbian ministries have already made all necessary analyses concerning the number of redundancies and starting from December this year are ready to dismiss 9,000 people. The last two reports on the subject arrived to the Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government a few days ago confirming the recent estimates made by Minister Udovicki.
Court’s recent decision to dismiss a suit brought by the Association of Pensioners’ Trade Unions of Serbia against Government’s unilateral decision to decrease pensions caused deep consternation among the aging population. Many are convinced that such decision was motivated rather by political than by juridical reasons and see it as a clear violation of country’s Constitution.
Youth unemployment in Serbia is currently more than 50 % while those working are often with no contract and their jobs are not secure, they are exposed to mobbing and suffer from stress. President of Serbian Construction Workers’ Union, Vukovic, said the Union was doing its best to convince the Government that the most efficient way of solving the problem...
Members of the Collegium of the Social and Economic Council have condemned at today's meeting the new measures of the Government of the Republic of Croatia which prohibit the trade of goods from the Republic of Serbia and, in particular, the measure of prohibiting entry of the citizens of the Republic of Serbia to Croatia.
Serbian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration and Local Government, Kori Udovicki, held talks with the Trade Union of Administration of Serbia on the implementation of the Law on determining the maximum number of employees in the public sector.
Provoked by unilateral decision of Serbian Government to leave the minimum wage at the level of September 2014, i.e at 121 dinars (1 euro) per hour, the CATUS is ready to make a plea to Constitutional Court asking it to rule on its compliance with Labour Law. Government’s decision came as a result of several unsuccessful attempts to determine new minimum wage within Social and Economic Council.
A decision concerning this important issue should be made at the beginning of next week since so far social partners have not managed to agree about it. Trade union negotiators are demanding the amount of 143 dinars (1.2 euros) per hour, while the employers’ and Government representatives are stubbornly clinging to only 121 (1 euro) dinars.
The Association of Pensioners' Trade Unions of Serbia protested against the idea that instead of our legally elected Government it would be the IMF to determine pensions and salaries in the country. Among other issues, as the media report, the possibility of pension and pay rise was one of the issues discussed at the meeting of Government officials and delegation of this international financial institution.
The agreement was signed on August 17 by Ljubisa Nestorovic, President of the Autonomous Trade Union of Workers in Chemical and Non Metallic Minerals Industry and Milos Nenezic, Deputy President of the Employers’ Association.
Serbian judges, prosecutors and workers reacted vehemently to the draft of law fixing the maximum number of employees in various segments of public sector. The already notorious urgency by which it was brought into parliamentary procedure did not allow social partners to add any amendments thereupon.
In an interview to Serbian newspaper “Blic” our well-known expert and Professor of Economics Miodrag Zec analyses the current situation in Serbia and offers his vision of its future. He accuses the politicians who in their electoral campaigns are ready to give everything to everybody but rarely say from whom they would take the necessary means.
Serbian Minister of Economy said the Government was greatly interested in mines’ survival, but there were strict orders of the IMF imposing a ban on all budgetary expenses meant at helping them. He promised regular meetings with workers’ representatives of “Resavica” saying that “even if not visible at the moment, there had to be a solution to the problem”.
Serbian unions are strongly opposing Government’s plan to introduce new taxes on real-estate and additionally aggravate the already catastrophic situation of our workers and pensioners. They are convinced that having a home is one of fundamental human needs and accuse the Government of attacking citizens’ right to decent life.
A year after the adoption of the new Labour Law its positive effects are being confirmed only by the employers and the Government. Their arguments about better business environment and lack of mass dismissals are however not shared by the unions convinced that the law has reduced workers’ rights and created more job insecurity.
The Association of Pensioners' Trade Unions of Serbia protested against Government's decision to increase taxes on real-estate and demanded its immediate abolition.
The Association condemns the fact that after unconstitutional decrease of wages in public sector and of pensions exceeding 25,000 dinars, adoption of the new law on forcible collection of debts and other unpopular measures, workers and citizens are now...
President of the Civil Servants Union of Serbia, Potežica and Minister for State and Local Administration, Udovički signed the amended version of the existing collective agreement covering the employees in the sector. The agreement was signed amidst rumours spread by various tabloids repeatedly writing about thousands of civil servants to be dismissed by the end of this year.
After discussing current situation in national education, Presidency of Teachers' Union of Serbia addressed the letter to the public signed by its President Pavlovic.
According to the Program of Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia, which was adopted at 15th Congress, CATUS shall fiercely oppose to the reduction of wages which is the basis of austerity and filling budget deficit, irregular payment of salaries, unjustified and long term payment of minimum wages and unjustified flexibility of work places leading to insecurity, fear, uncertain future..
At the fifteenth Congress of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia Ljubisav Orbovic was again elected president by the majority of votes. Members of Auditing and Statutory Committees were elected and Congress documents were adopted, e.g CATUS Program, Statute and 11 Resolutions.
On Thursday May 28, 2015 in the ceremonial hall of Trade Union House in Belgrade, Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia will hold its XV Congress, starting at 11 o'clock. Congress that will send its message ''Tomorrow is created today'' will consist of 374 delegates. Besides them, there will be about 250 trade union activists. Guests of the Congress will be representatives of Serbian Government, Employers' Association and other organisations and institutions.
Serbian Government decided not to postpone the final verdict on 526 companies that are still to be privatised – the big part of them will have to go bankrupt. Fortunately, it does not mean that all of them will be closed down. The analysts say that after getting into the hands of new owners many will go on producing.
On the eve of May 1, Serbian ombudsman Jankovic was sharply critical of country’s laws failing to guarantee the highest possible level of workers’ rights. Because of that, he said, it was highly important to secure at least those rights that had become part of the labour legislation. “State institutions should control employers and prevent them from breaching the laws, workers should turn to Labour Inspection and courts in case their rights had been violated...
As always, the most popular workers’ holiday was celebrated all over the country, the central event being the rally in front of our building, organised by two representative confederations, CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost. A few thousand workers had the opportunity to express their discontent with decrease in wages and the ever-falling living standard.
Not long ago we got a new Labour Law that considerably diminished workers’ rights and generally worsened the quality of their lives. Still, under the pressure of EU institutions, our Government is working hard to prepare new amendments and make Parliament adopt them by December.
At the rally organised in front of CATUS building in the centre of Belgrade, the Association of Pensioners’ Trade Unions of Serbia (APTUS) accused the Government again of “illegal theft” of a part of old citizens’ pensions.
The letter of support, which the European pensioners’ federation FERPA sent to our pensioners on the occasion of the rally that will be held in the centre of Belgrade, is another proof of international trade union solidarity. Its President, Bruno Constantini, asks Serbian Government to cancel its decision to cut pensions by 10 % and demands of it to bring them back to previous level.
Company trade union is ready to cover the international road Belgrade-Istanbul (Athens) with the tons of glass if Prime Minister Vucic does not solve the problem existing among their company, Gas Industry of Serbia (GIS) and the Government.
The news, which in the past would have seemed incredible, reached us a few days ago. The news comes from Jagodina, a city in Central Serbia where an Italian textile company (“Confezioni Andrea Serbia”), which was established with subsidies of Serbian Government, helped the creation of the factory trade union.
The May Day rally has always been a good opportunity to express workers’ discontent at catastrophic economic and social conditions they live in. This year too, the CATUS is ready to do everything to gather people on the oldest workers’ holiday. A few days ago, it addressed a call to all members of its Council, branch federations and regional councils urging them to make an effort to mobilise and send the maximum number of their affiliates to Belgrade central rally.
The Autonomous Trade Union in TELEKOM-Serbia and the CATUS have recently organised a public debate on why Serbia should fiercely oppose the above-mentioned machination. The conclusion was very clear: by selling the national company our Government would commit a new fatal mistake and endanger the future of both next and our generations.
The economic and social situation in South Serbian Autonomous Province is getting worse and worse. Seven years after the attempt of acquiring independence K&M is almost at a dead end: unemployment rate is at 45 %, while 17 % of the citizens live on one dollar a day.
Statement, in which he explains that this should be done because the model seems very promising, was broadcast a few days ago at the most popular First Channel of Serbian National Television.
Making effort to join the EU, Serbia is also resolute to adopt some of the institutions that have already been under heavy attack from our colleague unionists in the West – the ill-famed private employment agencies are one of them. Their expansion in our country has been miraculous, as in a very short span of time, round 50,000 people became their employees.
Since last Monday, the biggest Serbian steelworks has been led by the new management and according to modified rules. Both workers and citizens of Smederevo hope that their company will find new markets and be able not only to survive but also to expand its production and sales.
Dissatisfied with the illegal decrease of pensions enforced by the Government, as well as with the worsening living conditions resulting thereof, the Association of Pensioners’ Trade Unions, affiliated to CATUS, started preparing a rally that might take place in early April.
Serbian Ministry of Health set a deadline to employees in all health institutions to declare by tomorrow whether they planned to terminate employment or not. Its spokesman explained that the survey had been made in order to prepare a plan for complete rationalisation of public sector and to define quality social programs for possible redundancies.
Trade unions in various companies in restructuring are claiming that Ministry of Economy was not consistent in defining criteria for the privatisation model for more than 500 enterprises in which a major part of shares or all of them belong to the State.
The Vice-President of the Government of the Republic of Serbia and Minister of State and Local Self-Government, Kori Udovicki, signed the collective agreement which had been reached for employees of state organs, together with Njegos Potezica, President of the Trade Union of Public Administration, as well as Sladjanka Milosevic, President of the Trade Union of the Judiciary of Serbia and Slavoljub Todorovic, President of the Trade Union of Judicial organisations.
At the seminar organised in Belgrade by the ETUI, CATUS and UGS Nezavisnost on February 26 and 27 the CATUS Secretary General Mihajlovic analysed the situation in health and safety in Serbia. “More than half of 350,000 employees working in various industries risk their life and health” he said pointing out that “to that number one should add another 200,000 workers in the informal sector”.
In an interview given to Serbian media the CATUS President Orbovic said this was visible at the first sight as the industrial production and GDP have been constantly sinking. “If we want to be objective” he added “we cannot say there was any considerable advance.
It came after almost three months of different strike activities and negotiations with two most important unions – Teachers’ Union of Serbia (affiliated to CATUS) and NTTU Nezavisnost – signing the Agreement on Dispute Settlement and new Collective Agreement, coordinated between trade union and Government negotiators. So, one of the longest strikes in country’s history is behind us.
Joint action could further strenghten pensioners fighting for their rights and help keeping pensions at decent level, concluded the representatives of pensioners’ trade unions in a Declaration issued after Regional Conference held in Belgrade, on February 4.
If collective negotiations with the Government fail, the Union of Employees in Judicial System and Civil Servants Union of Serbia will have to resort to strike in order to “soften” their partner’s position, explained the leaders of two unions, Sladjanka Milosevic and Njegos Potezica.
According to the new Labour Law the national agreements should be signed until January 29 this year. The unions’ expectations in that regard were accompanied by a Government’s warning to employers who are not showing much enthusiasm about it. The importance of the agreements is hard to overestimate as the new rights could be added to the minimum guaranteed by the existing law.
Several new confederations are trying hard to use their relations with political parties and thus become officially representative. The fact that by doing so they show the highest disrespect for legal procedure does not bother them at all. Moreover, not being representative themselves, they try to question representativity of others.
Not long ago the Croatian website Index.hr published the article written by journalist Borislav Ristic propagating the “elimination of trade unions’ power”. The reaction of regional trade union leaders was immediate: all of them warned against somebody’s obvious intention (”plan”) to destroy the movement in Western Balkans and raised the alarm among the unions appealing to them to unite and act jointly.
In a press release CATUS sharply criticised Kosovo Government’s intention to privatise “Trepca”, one of the biggest companies in south Serbian province and demanded that all illegal activities leading to its privatisation be immediately stopped.
During Tito’s times Smederevo steelworks was a pride of socialist economy, but after a sharp transition to capitalism it proved to be rather ineffective. Sold to US Steel it had a few years of peace, till the Americans decided to sell it and put to risk its very existence. Since the beginning of Mr. Vucic’s great “liberal counter-revolution” it’s future, as well as the future of other such companies was one of the most debated subjects.
Serbian Association of Pensioners’ Trade Unions triumphantly welcomed the City Council decision to give up the idea of increasing the price of pensioners’monthly-prepaid tickets for city transport. Debate on that subject lasted for days and was focused on the new, 990 dinar (round 8 euros) monthly tickets for those getting pensions higher than 25,000 dinars (203 euros) and 1495 dinar (12 euros) tickets for those whose pensions are higher than 50,000 dinars (406 euros).
The agreement was finally signed after months of negotiations by Minister of Health, Loncar and representatives of three major unions in the sector. In a declaration issued after the solemn ceremony, social partners said they understood they were all doing the same task and were ready to jointly contribute to the improvement of the existing health system.
President of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Vojvodina, Goran Milic said in an interview given to Serbian media that trade unionists were pretty convinced this year would be more difficult than the last one.
Teachers coming from all parts of Serbia gathered on Friday at unions’ traditional rally-point in front of the CATUS seat at Nikola Pasic Square. Four biggest federations managed to find a common denominator and joined forces in the eve of a great battle expected in the days to come.
Association of Trade Unions of Pensioners of Serbia (ATUPS) made public a letter sent to Serbian Prime Minister Vucic by European Federation of Pensioners and Aged Persons (FERPA), supporting our organisation’s criticism against the Government’s decision to reduce all pensions over 200 euros.
Leaderships of two representative Serbian confederations, CATUS and UGS Nezavisnost, criticised behaviour of the Government and appealed for a total mobilisation of their affiliates and workers in general. The appeal was launched at a round table organised in Vrnjacka Banja with assistence of ITUC office in Sarajevo.
After the Autonomous Trade Union of Employees in Road Maintenance of Serbia (ATUERM) and representative Association of Employers in Road Maintenance signed a new collective agreement, the Union President Sonja Vukanovic said it would considerably help improve workers protection and regulate relations between social partners in next three years.
It seems that according to our Government the only thing Serbia can offer to the world is the cheap labour force. It is the meaning of the chief message contained in its newest video clip broadcast recently by the CNN and inviting foreign capital owners to invest here: “Come to Serbia - discover its qualified workers and low salaries!”.
Trade Union of Pensioners of Serbia initiated before the Constitutional Court a dispute dealing with the constitutionality of the new Law on Pension Payment which stipulates that since December the part of pensions exceeding the basic 25,000 dinars (around 200 euros) would be reduced by 22%-25%.
Before filling the budget by reducing the salaries in public sector Government should have put more pressure on tycoons who have not been paying taxes, CATUS officials say. "One of the causes of people's dissatisfaction is the awareness that necessary savings could have been made rather by increasing pressure on tax-evading tycoons than by making cuts in public sector ", CATUS president Orbovic also confirmed.
Arrival of the ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow to Belgrade, bringing some strong messages for our employers and the Government, could legitimately be called a Big Event for Serbian workers and unions. During the meeting with the Prime Minister Vucic she was assured by him that the Government would do anything to reinstall the already forgotten institution of social dialogue, especially within the Social and Economic Council.
Delegations composed of representatives of trade unions and employers from about fifty enterprises in restructuring have recently had a meeting in Privatisation Agency where they discussed the models of future privatisations. It's been envisaged that more than 30 enterprises should go bankrupt, and 15 of them sold, which is a decision that neither trade unions nor managements agree on.
On Thursday, November 27, General Secretary of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) Sharan Burrow is going to visit representative trade union confederations, Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia and TUC Nezavisnost in order to extend her support in their fight against reducing workers' rights, undermining social dialogue and attempts to discredit trade unions in Serbia.
Ever growing number of street protests and strikes is one of the proofs that Serbia is passing through a rather tense period: policemen, teachers, doctors and nurses, lawyers, public utility workers and employees in culture have already expressed their discontent openly. Hunger strikes are following one another even in companies that once upon a time were real leaders in the region...
Secretary General of the European Trade Union Confederation was back in Belgrade just a few days after CATUS an UGS Nezavisnost became full members of that organisation. The formal reason of the visit was an international conference on industrial relations and social dialogue in European Union and Serbia that was held in CATUS premises on November 6 and 7.
Round 80 % of the employees in the sector participated in a strike organised on November 6 by the CATUS Federation of Employees in Health and Social Security and other three unions. At 375 hospitals, health/social security centers and other institutions of the NHS, more than 100,000 employees showed their discontent with the measures recently adopted by Serbian Government.
The claim has been justified by the fact that these workers do not get their salaries from the budget. It’s worth mentioning that Serbian Government has recently decided to decrease salaries of all public employees by 10%, which caused great discontent among the workers.
A big part of the press-conference that has recently been organised in our premises was dedicated to the future of the giant steelworks that for many years has been burdening Serbian economy. Beside the CATUS President Orbovic there were also President of Metalworkers’ Federation Vujovic and president of steelworks’ company trade union Prelic.
Six Serbian federations representing employees in health, education, public administration, culture, judicial system and public utilities issued a common statement protesting against the recent Government decision aimed at decreasing salaries in these important sectors.
The membership in the biggest European trade union organisation is the result of a unanimous vote of the ETUC Executive Committee that took place on October 22 in Brussels. For almost five years (since December 2009) CATUS had had the observer status giving it the right to be informed and to participate in all debates within the ETUC but without the right to vote.
The latest statement, issued by the Ministry of Labour, trying to convince Serbian public that employment is steadily growing, may be considered а case of wishful thinking, say experts explaining that the data mentioned there can only be true on paper, not in reality. Quoting the national Statistical Office Minister Vulin tried to prove that since last September unemployment had decreased by 3.8 % and was only 20.3 %.
Four representative teacher unions decided to go on with the activities aimed at making Government modify its austerity program. One of the program’s intentions was the 20% reduction of salaries in public sector - a measure that since the beginning has been met by the employees with disappontment and rage.
This year on October 7 Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia again participated in the realization of the World Day for Decent Work campaign.
In CATUS and UGS Nezavisnost announcement which was published in domestic media on that occasion, it's been pointed out that workers' rights in Serbia are far below norms and standards established by the EU, working conditions are extremely bad and salaries of most people push them to the brink of poverty.
Dear Mr. Vucic,
Serbia is in a deep crisis which makes us, like the most people, very concerned about its future.
The austerity measures were adopted without consultations with workers’ representatives and affect only the employees whose wages are already low.
We strongly oppose the reduction of wages in public sector that will certainly lead to a decline in living standard, consumption cuts and decrease in the economic activity.
In an interview to the media, CATUS Secretary General Mihajlovic said that out of 400,000 Serbian workers receiving minimum wage, more than a half would not get that amount either. Reminding the public that a few days ago minimum wage was increased by nearly 5 % and quoting Minister Vulin's statement that no worker in Serbia should get less than 21,000 dinars per month, he still expressed his doubt about employers' readiness to respect the Government's decision.
The strike is a response to the appeal issued by the Teachers' Union of Serbia and three other big unions after the session held in Belgrade on September 25. It started this morning by teachers not giving first lectures in both morning and afternoon shifts. The educators ask to be exempt from the measures that were announced by the Government and anticipate the reduction of wages in public sector.
The decision concerning its exact amount was made unilaterally at the session held on September 26, Monday. It followed the impasse caused by the lack of compromise between social partners who loooked in vain, for more than a month, for a solution that would satisfy all sides.
Teachers' Union of Serbia and Trade Union of Educational Workers asked for the education not to be included in the announced reduction of salaries in public sector. "We don't accept any kind of reduction of salaries in the education because they are already below the national average, around 15,000 employees in education receiving minimum wage, said the president of the Teachers' Union of Serbia, Branislav Pavlović.
Due to the upcoming reduction of pensions the Association of Pensioner's Trade Unions of Serbia announced that it would look for justice at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. As it has been said they would first initiate the procedure of assessing the Government's decision at the Constitutional Court of Serbia and if they were not satisified they would go to Strasbourg.
South Korean „Yura Corporation“ in Rača, close to Kragujevac, submitted the request to the Ministry of Labour asking for the trade union organization in Yura Corporation to be deleted from the register.
In the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Kragujevac it is estimated that this behaviour is offending both the workers and Serbia as a state.
Minimum labour cost per hour in Serbia hasn't been changed for two years and amounts to 115 dinars. Trade unions think that it should be raised to 137.9 dinars. Employers, however, think that it shouldn't be changed because there are no conditions for that.
Recovery plan that workers of Serbian company Termoelektro prepared for the hearing at the Economic Court could become a good model for all companies having the same problems. Its core is an idea to convert claims of companies' creditors into shares that would become their property. Such a proceeding would help avoiding bankruptcies and compensate the losses of all the victims of companies' insolvency.
News that Serbian Government intends to privatise the famous Trade Union Hall has caused deep consternation of CATUS members already suffering under combined attack by employers and politicians. The Hall started working in the 60s of the previous century, its founder being the Council of Trade Union Confederation of Yugoslavia.
Company trade unions in the factories of lubricants and bakery Branko Perisic in Kruševac decided to organize a workers' consortium with the intention to participate in the privatisation of their own companies. The initiative was fully supported by the local Social and Economic Council.
Dear Mr. President,
At the recent Parilamentary session there has been a discussion on the Labour Law and Law on Pension and Disability Insurance. The laws were adopted as a matter of urgency, regardless of the regulations and legally binding procedures and without the coordination with social partners at the Social and Economic Council.
On July 17 our capital looked like other European capitals in days of fierce protests against the catastrophic neo-liberal policies. The atmosphere in its streets was created by thousands of flags, banners, drums and whistles, the truck with loudspeakers thundering against Government’s drafts of Labour Law and Law on Pensions and Disability Insurance…
The new phase of our protests was opened yesterday by the action of metalworkers of CATUS and UGS Nezavisnost whose members came from big Serbian industrial centres Belgrade, Kragujevac, Krusevac and others. They asked for the Government’s support in the months preceeding the final privatisation of their companies, payment of minimum wages, health insurance and a special program for workers-victims of restructuring.
Today, members of CATUS and UGS 'Nezavisnost' gathered in front of the Government building in order to express their discontent with the final version of Labour Law and Law on Pension and Disability Insurance, but also to protest against the fact that the Drafts would be introduced into the parliamentary procedure without the consensus of social partners in the Social and Economic Council.
Under the title “New Labour Law - Reform or Anti-reform?” on July 9 the table will be organised by two major Serbian confederations, CATUS and UGS Nezavisnost. The participants mostly from Government, trade union and employers’ organizations, joined by foreign investors and domestic experts, will all together try to find answers to crucial questions such as:
Violence against the employees, being carried out through the amendments to the Labour Law drafted without a public debate, represents an open subjugation to foreign interests as nobody ever proved that the bad economic situation in Serbia was caused by the high level of workers' rights.
CATUS President Orbovic has sent a circular letter to all presidents of our federations and regional organisations asking them to be ready to mobilise their members on the call of the Confederation that might follow in recent future.
The warning has to do with possible protests that might take place in the capital and last for more than a day or two.
Continuing its dirty campaign against the unions, the media which is under the control of certain political and business circles, has provoked another scandal adding to its already low reputation.
The newest Draft of the Amendments to the Labour Law, prepared by the the Ministry of Labour, was not agreed upon with the unions, is not the result of the Work group's efforts and does not reflect what representative unions were fighting for in the last couple of months.
After the session of the CATUS Presidency a statement was issued, giving support to Government’s decision to postpone till October the 10 % decrease of wages of all civil servants and employees in public services.
Trade Union of Workers in Public Utilities has once more opposed the politicians’ intention to use the restructuring of these companies as a pretext for the privatization of a big part of national wealth. In an interview given to the media, its President Grujic explicitly said his federation was against the idea of depriving people of essential goods such as communal water supply, central heating, cemeteries and city sanitation.
In a letter addressed to the General Director of Serbian Radio and Televison (SRT) the President of Kragujevac Regional Council, Jugoslav Ristic, is sharply criticizing a video clip that recently appeared in various SRT programs, its co-author being the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED), an obscure NGO representing mostly interests of Serbian and foreign employers.
President of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Vojvodina and member of the Tripartite Work Group on Labour Law, Goran Milic, said he hoped the reason would prevail and current Government’s Draft be sent into oblivion.
The crisis in the sector which employs round 90,000 workers is obvious: wages are constantly falling and every year 5,000 jobs are lost. The situation is bad both at construction sites employing 65,000 workers and in industry of building materials with its 25,000 employees.
In order to give true information to all CATUS members and prevent further disinformation, the President of the Confederation Orbovic has sent a letter to Presidents of branch federations and regional councils explaining that recent news, which appeared in Serbian media concerning the alleged agreement on new Labour Law between social partners that was to be signed soon, were false.
A few weeks ago Serbia was struck by disastrous floods. Many human lives and huge material goods were lost in one of the most terrible catastrophes that had ever happened on the Balkans.
After three months of negotiations on the amendments to the existing Labour Law, it seems that we are again at the very beginning. For such an impasse the unions tend to blame the Government which, according to them, is too often ready to side with the employers (while justifying such behaviour by an “urgent need of harmonizing Serbian regulation with the EU standards”).
Serbia has been hard hit by catastrophic floods. People lost their lives, a great number of those who were evacuated were forced to leave their homes; residential buildings, enterprises, bridges and roads were flooded, damaged or ruined.
Dear brothers and sisters,
We are writing to you on the behalf of Serbian citizens and membership of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia and TUC ''Nezavisnost''. These days our country, citizens and trade union members have been going through a natural disaster which is still going on and whose consequences are unpredictable. Lost lives, thousands of flooded...
After today's session of the Social-Economic Council, which was also attended by the PM Aleksandar Vucic, trade union and employers' representatives announced that they agreed to the new austerity measures of the Government, except for the trade unions opposing the 10% reduction of salaries in the public sector.
A few days ago the new Prime Minister disclosed the Government’s new development plan.
1. According to it, private companies will get 1.2 billion euro loans from banks whose low interest rates will be subsidised by the Government’s 60 billion. The experts think it will substantially improve the liquidity of Serbian economy...
The strike would be the first reaction to the Government’s restrictive economic program made recently public by the new Prime Minister Vucic. It would unite all four representative teachers’ trade unions whose members would not teach the first lessons in morning and afternoon shifts.
On the occasion of the main workers’ holiday two biggest Serbian trade unions, CATUS and UGS Nezavisnost, have sent a harsh message to the Government criticizing its new economic program based on restrictions, wage decreases and mass dismissals in public sector.
For a long time the name of the person occupying the post of the Minister of Labour was a puzzle. We have recently learned it would be Aleksandar Vulin, president of the Socialist Movement, one of the parties that makes part of the ruling coalition. Known as a “leftist”, Mr. Vulin is expected to promote – as far as it is possible – the interests of the employees.
Getting news about the May 1 celebration in Belgrade, the General Secretary of the ETUC Bernadette Segol has sent a message of solidarity to CATUS and UGS Nezavisnost Presidents Orbovic and Canac. She was especially content with their readiness to organise the event together.
According to the official information, in Serbia there are around 1,7 million employees. However, around 45,000 don't receive their monthly salary while 650,000 don't receive it regularly. An average monthly salary is around 40,000 dinars (345 euros) while around 35,000 people get less than a legal minimum, which is 115 dinars per hour (less than one euro), meaning less than 20,000 dinars (173 euros).
Trade unionists of Krusevac region are promoting the idea of “workers’ shares” which could enable workers to become co-owners of their companies. They are lobbying even the legislators whom they try to convince that giving workers possibility to unite during the privatization process and buy their enterprises would be both just and useful.
That is what exactly the CATUS President Orbovic declared during a talk-show on the State television. He announced a new document of the social partners’ joint commission that should incorporate compromises on various controversial issues.
The CATUS President Orbovic suggested to Serbian policy makers how to considerably cut public spending without damaging workers’ and citizens’ interests: simply stop paying those who make part of numerous public companies’ administrative boards.
The encounter with Presidents of CATUS and UGS “Nezavisnost” Orbovic and Canac was organized in the premises of CATUS at Nikola Pasic Square. Mrs. Miscevic is among the persons who always supported the participation of unions’ representatives in negotiations with the European Union.
According to the decision of Serbian Social and Economic Council its President (from April 2014 to April 2015) will be the leader of UGS “Nezavisnost” Branislav Canak. At the same session Council gave thanks to its outgoing President, Serbian Prime Minister Dacic and took decisions concerning its technical functioning and work of its standing committees.
Candidate for the post of Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vucic, has recently presented his future economic program. Thanks to the fact that his Serbian Progressive Party won much more than a half of seats in the Parliament, the probability that the announced measures would be realised during his mandate is very high.
Due to the unfulfilled demands, the workers of ''Yumco'', who have been striking since January 13, announced new protests in the streets of the industrial center of South Serbia, Vranje. At the press-conference the presidents of the Autonomous Trade Union and the ASNS announced that 1800 textile workers would block the international motorway Belgrade-Niš-Skopje-Athens. This time the protest wouldn't end as usual in front of the building of the City Administration, and what's interesting is that on the first protest day the strikers would go to the Orthodox church of Holy Trinity and pray to God for the rescue of ''Yumco''.
Though being among the lowest in the region, the minimum wage in Serbia has remained the same for the last two years. Still, according to some estimates, it is a usual monthly income of more than one third of Serbian workers. Currently, it amounts to 115 dinars (1 euro) per hour or 2010 dinars (174 euros) per month.
The idea of our colleagues from Novi Sad to bring unions closer to the young was born a few years ago after a long and fruitful cooperation with foreign partners. Still, this was realised for the first time in February this year.
The creation of the work group followed the agreement made between the Government and the unions soon after the first version of the amended Labour Law was abandoned. After several meetings that ended up with a rather limited success, the new session was scheduled for March 27.
Every fifth worker in Serbia doesn't receive their salary or the salary hasn't been paid for several months. About 35,000 people get less than 21,000 dinars per month (less than 200 euros), which is a legal minimum wage. Many lose their jobs every day.
Following the experience of many European unions where pensioners play important role in different activities and responding to the appeals of its ex-members' eagerness to continue their trade union career, the CATUS Executive Board had long ago decided to assist the creation of a specific pensioners’ federation within its ranks.
Chief Serbian negotiators in the EU accession process claim there is no major problem in harmonizing our laws with the European legislation but in making it respected. Thus, for example, laws on migrant workers, social security and employment are in compliance with the EU norms as there is no discrimination towards foreign workers and just several amendments concerning their easier employment in public services are to be added.
From January to June 2014 the minimum wage per hour, without taxes and contributions, will remain the same i.e 115 dinars (1 euro) per hour. The Government’s announcement came rather unexpected since unions spent much time and energy trying to negotiate an increase. All was in vain as the politicians stuck to their restrictive economic policy.
On the first day of its visit to Belgrade, after visiting CATUS premises, the ETUC delegation had the opportunity to confer with Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic and First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic. During the talks the ETUC General Secretary Bernadette Segol noted that trade unions across Europe were firmly committed to sustainable reforms and advocated for a strong social dimension, underlining that social dialogue was crucial for economic stability and progress.
The ETUC General Secretary arrived in Belgrade accompanied by the Confederation’s political adviser Peter Seideneck. The aim of their two-day visit to our capital was to support two largest Serbian trade union confederations in their fight for workers’ decent living and working conditions.
In the negotiation process between Government, employers and trade union representatives concerning the amendments to the Labour Law, first concrete agreements have already been made. During yesterday’s meeting the tripartite work group succeeded in defining norms regulating fixed time contracts and severance pay.
According to the data of the Ministry of Trade, in December last year the average consumers’ basket equalled 1.28 average salary (i.e. 65,025 dinars or 565 euros). In comparison to its November value it went up by 0.49 % (i.e. 319 dinars or 2,77 euros). But, due to the increased net salaries the purchasing power of Serbian workers also went up.
According to CATUS Vice-President Mihajlovic the talks during the first meeting of the work group held on February 3 were “rather general”. Except for the agreement to meet every Thursday, there were no other concrete results.
Deputy Prime Minister Rasim Ljajic declared that the creation of the new work group dealing with the amendments to the existing Labour Law was a clear sign we were entering the new phase of social dialogue. The new group designed for the coordination of efforts of Government, CATUS, UGS “Nezavisnost”and Employers' Association of Serbia was to start working today on February 3.
More than 4,000 metalworkers gathered in front of the CATUS premises on Friday, January 24 protesting against the new Labour Law and new Laws on Privatization and Bankruptcy. The resignation of the Minister of Economy Radulovic was also claimed. The rally was organized by the metalworkers federations...
In spite of the agreement reached with the Government two days ago, the two major Serbian confederations, CATUS and UGS “Nezavisnost” did not cancel their decision to start an hour long warning strike today. The strike that covered the whole country lasted from 11 to 12 a.m. and this time it was limited only to work places. It was joined by the Independent Union of Police too.
Today, Prime Minister Dacic and First Deputy Prime Minister Vucic reached the agreement with the members of the Collegium of the the Social and Economic Council about further procedure concerning the adoption of the New Labour Law. It was agreed that all controversial issues should be regulated exclusively through social dialogue between unions, employers and the Government.
Presidents of the two major Serbian Confederations, CATUS and UGS “Nezavisnost” have sent letters to people, being at the head of the most important political institutions of the country, asking them to do everything possible in order to stop the adoption of the new anti-worker Labour Law.
Minister of Economy Radulovic keeps on shocking Serbian public: a few days ago the unions got insight into a letter he sent to boards of directors of our public enterprises, the content of which was confirming his intention to destroy not only workers' welfare but their organizations as well.
In the center of Belgrade Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia and TUC Nezavisnost set up stands where propaganda material containing information about damaging consequences of the new Labour Law will be distributed to the citizens in the next couple of days. Leaders of those two trade union confederations Ljubisav Orbovic and Branislav Canak, as well as the representatives of these TU organizations, attended the setting up of the stand at Terazije sq.
The representatives of the famous investment fund “Westwood” said they were interested in the biggest Serbian steelworks in Smederevo. The factory built in Tito’s times soon proved to be insufficiently productive. Having been assisted by the Government for years it was finally sold to the “US Steel” after democratic changes took place in Serbia in 2000, but the Americans left and the company became the problem of Serbian Government again.
Public debate on the amendments to the Labour Law was concluded on December 10 but it is already obvious that its results are rather poor. After the enraged workers blocked the first session, in Novi Sad, the Ministry of Labour cancelled the other two, in Nis and Kragujevac.
The most famous Serbian company has restarted the production after three-week holiday. At the beginning of the new season the unionists are rather confident about the future: 3050 workers are working in three shifts producing 600 to 750 vehicles a day.
Trade Union of Employees in Judicial System of Serbia accused the politicians of sending a false message to society convincing people that the ones to be blamed for chaos in the country’s judicial system were the “lazy” employees. The Union’s President Sladjanka Milosevic asked the politicians to be honest and stop diffusing statements that were far from being true.
Recently, presidents of two biggest Serbian confederations sent a letter to the ITUC,ETUC an ILO explaining the situation in the country and asking for support. Here is the full text of that letter.
Following the best traditions of workers and trade union solidarity, yesterday two biggest Serbian confederations, CATUS and “Nezavisnost”, organized a common big action of protest in the House of Trade Unions in Belgrade. The main claim of the activists who overcrowded the hall was the withdrawal of the Draft of the Labour Law from the parliamentarian procedure.
First public debate on the Draft of the new Labour Law was cancelled last week because of the fierce trade union protests in front of the provincial Chamber of Commerce in Novi Sad. Angry workers blocked the building and demanded from participants of the debate to support their claim concerning the complete withdrawal of the notorious Draft from the Parliamentarian procedure.
General Director of “Serbian Railways” Simonovic has forbidden the Railway Trade Union from entering the office it has been officially using from the very moment of its foundation more than twenty years ago. He did it using his own body guards and in spite of a valid decree issued by the Ministry of Labour giving unions the right to the office.
Industrial federations - members of CATUS and ''Nezavisnost'' have recently organized a big meeting dedicated to defending workers' rights and enterprises in restructuring. At the joint meeting of representatives of those two biggest trade union confederations and managements of enterpises in restructuring...
President of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia Ljubisav Orbovic stated that trade unions were preparing their own version of the Labour Law where workers' rights would be better protected.
According to data recently made public by the Serbian Government 750,000 of the total of 2.2 million employees work in public sector. The Government is of the opinion that around 30,000 of them will soon have to look for jobs in other sectors of economy. It also thinks that in order to ease the crisis of public finances the wages of those who stay will have to be cut down.
In spite of harsh words addressed to the Minister in a letter written a few days ago, Presidents of the two biggest Serbian confederations met Mr. Radulovic and had the opportunity to discuss with him the amendments to the new Labour Law and Ministry’s plan for restructuring 153 big companies.
According to the decision of the CATUS Presidency saying that it is necessary to plan intensive activities connected to the announced amendments to the Labour Law, branch and regional unions have already started organizing meetings of their committees and public debates in order to inform their membership about the developments negatively affecting their rights.
CATUS thinks that amending the existing law, where 220 out of 270 articles will be changed, would not represent a change but the enforcement of a completely new law. Besides, the idea to adopt it in two months time is rather silly because this is one of the laws (Laws on Privatisation, Strike and Budget) ''defining the destiny'' of 7.5 million citizens of Serbia.
Even though this year's inflation is lower, Life in Serbia is getting harder. Average consumer's basket requires around 570 euros but even 682, 715 employees do not earn that much.
Last year there was a two-digit inflation rate in Serbia while this year, according to the estimate of economists, inflation rate shouldn't exceed 5.5%.
CATUS trade unions representing real sector and UGS ''Nezavisnost'' asked for the resignation of the Minister of Economy Saša Radulović. Trade unions think that Radulović "submits reports to interest groups on a daily basis, creates neither a favourable environment for work, development and employment, nor conditions for the functioning of economy".
Appearing at B92 TV show Serbian Minister of Economy Radulovic said the next year would be rather difficult for Serbian economy but in 2015 and 2016 one could expect growth of employment. According to him restricitions would be necessary in 2014 but after that the positive results would be more visible. Speaking about the possible dismissals he said that at the moment too much discussion about the subject would show the lack of responsibility.
Representatives of CATUS industrial unions warned they would organise rallies in front of the premises of the Government and Ministry of Economy if not urgently received by the Prime Minister Dacic or Deputy Prime Minister Vucic. In an open letter adressed to them, but also to Serbian President Nikolic...
The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia and UGS ''Nezavisnost'' withdrew from the negotiations aimed at amending the existing Labour Law. Leaders of two biggest trade union confederations, Ljubisav Orbovic and Branislav Canak explained the withdrawal by the fact that four parallel versions of the Law instead of one made further talks difficult to continue (at least for the moment) and represented the abuse of trade unions' good will .
Draft of amendments to the Labour Law recently delivered to the representatives of the government, employers and trade unions should be adopted till the end of this year. Even though the suggested amandments have already gained publicity, fierce discussions between employers and trade unions are yet to be expected.
According to conclusions of the meeting of two Executive Boards held recently in the premises of the CATUS, our Confederation and “Nezavisnost” are increasingly improving their cooperation. It is a direct consequence of the Government’s intention to amend the Labour Law and enforce its new restrictive economic program.
In Belgrade the representatives of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia had a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic and Finance Minister Lazar Krstic. It was stated at the meeting that the situation in the country was very difficult and employees' position was unsatisfactory.
Minister of Economy Sasa Radulovic declared that at least 20% - 30% of 100,000 workers in the companies going through restructuring would probably be made redundant. As the guest of national television he said that by June 2014 the process of restructuring of 609 enterprises, employing more than 100,000 people, had to be finished and it was necessary to dismiss workers if those enterprises were to ''get on their feet''.
The once flourishing sector which once counted around 400,000 workers has been reduced to only 100,000 since 2000. If this trend continues there might be 50,000 new redundancies in the next few years leading to final extinction of any relevant metal industry, claim the representatives of the Autonomous Trade Union of Metalworkers, member of the CATUS.
The agreement to join efforts in defense and improvement of workers’ rights - a result of a common session of two Executive Boards’ held in the premises of our Confederation - was signed yesterday, on October 28.
Having in mind labour market insecurity, high education is getting necessary for every individual because it provides him/her with more possibilities when looking for a job. Nowadays, the number of employees who decide to continue their studies while working is increasing rapidly.
At the meeting with the National Alliance for Local and Economic Development Minister of Economy Sasa Radulovic said that since the beginning of the crisis 600,000 people in Serbia had been dismissed. He explained that 300,000 of them had been the officially employed while the rest were those who had worked in the informal sector. According to the National Employment Agency, at this moment there are more than 760, 000 people on its register, 9,000 more than last year, with people under 30 years of age making the third.
In the communiqué issued immediately after the new economic “package” was made public, our confederation warns against its restrictive character. According to the CATUS it is obvious that the wish to balance the country’s budget (which will additionally decrease our citizens’ standard of living) prevailed over all other concerns i.e. more investment, creation of new jobs and re-industrialization of the country. Consequently, the emphasis was put on measures such as decrease of wages in public sector and increase of the privileged VAT (on basic products) from 8 to 10 per cent.
The delegation led by the CATUS President Orbovic met the Minister of Finance Krstic on October 4, Friday as it was agreed with the First Deputy Prime Minister Vucic a few weeks ago. After analyzing current economic difficulties, Mr. Krstic has also informed the delegation about Government’s measures that should curb the existing negative trends. He explained that the measures were aimed mostly at introducing more efficient taxation, reforming public service, changing some basic laws and providing cheaper credits
In an open letter to Prime Minister Dacic the President of CATUS reminds him that in a situation characterized by our efforts to join the EU and enormous difficulties our workers and citizens face, unions are convinced that the best way of solving the problems is the regular social dialogue. Unfortunately, that dialogue is nowadays at its historical minimum.
Yesterday the CATUS President Orbovic and First Deputy Prime Minister Vucic met in the premises of Serbian Government on the eve of parliamentary debate on the amendments to the existing Labour Law. The necessary reforms to be done in the near future were also discussed. Mr. Vucic was accompanied by ministers of economy and finances Radulovic and Krstic, as well as by his advisor Mali.
In 2012 there were 103 strikes and 60 protests in Serbia in which around 100,000 employees took part. Up to July this year 42 strikes and 6 protests have been organized, as shown by the data of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (CATUS). Most strikes were organized in big Serbian cities. The biggest and most frequent ones were those carried out by workers in metal industry and construction.
Serbian teachers will start new school year with the average salary amounting to 43,000 dinars (377 euros), and in October they will get a modest pay rise of 0.5% as all other employees in the public sector. President of the Teachers' Union of Serbia Branislav Pavlovic announces talks about the correction of co-efficients immediately after the government reshuffle. If negotiations fail, he says, there is still a possibility that schools go on strike in October and November.
The company was bought by the Russian “Gaspromneft” a few years ago, subdued to an important restructuring and transformed into a profitable enterprise. Nevertheless, the unions are not ready to forgive the fact that this was paid by numerous dismissals and substitution of fired workers by those hired through employment agencies.
Acting general director of JAT Airways Velibor Vukasinovic declared that trade unions were to be included into solving the problem of too many employees in that airline company. Vukasinovic told Beta agency that on the initiative of JAT Airways management a joint meeting, during which social program and the issue of redundancies were discussed, was held with the representatives of trade union.
President of the Autonomous Trade Union of Zastava Trucks Goran Miletic said that during the restructuring process 321 workers who opted to voluntarily leave their jobs were expected to accept social program at the beginning of September. He explained to Beta agency it meant that 45% out of total workforce ( 717 workers) chose the social program.
After decades of living in a welfare state and system of self-management it is not always easy to adapt to neo-liberal capitalism –that is exactly the experience of many Serbian workers in the years of transition. They are especially hit by the fact that many companies exploiting their cheap labour come from abroad and degrade domestic enterprises to the status of mere sub-contractors.
While waiting for the government reshuffle and nomination of new ministers, bit by bit Serbian citizens are getting insight into what to expect when it comes to the living standard. And that is belt-tightening, structural reforms, reduction in budget expenses, all of which has already been announced by the candidate for Finance Minister's position Lazar Krstić.
CATUS President Ljubisav Orbović and Vice-President of the CATUS Council Zoran Mihajlović had a meeting with the delegation of the European Center for Workers' Questions (EZA), led by the president and general secretary Bartho Pronk and Roswitha Gottbehut.
Forty Serbian workers in Uruguay are like a needle in haystack of several thousand people currently working abroad. According to the estimates of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia, there are 5,000 legally employed workers while the number of those working on the black market is unknown.
It is quite disturbing how long the process of government reshuffle has been going on. We no longer have time to waste. It is difficult to say what could be expected after the reshuffle because we don't know who will take these ministerial positions. But what is worrying is that the government is increasingly turning to the neoliberal concept.
Last year Labour Inspection submitted only 42 resolutions connected to preventing workers from using their legally guaranteed annual leave, and up to June this year it has submitted 25. The unions estimate that between 700, 000 and a million people can't take their annual leave.
The value of the existing minimum wage of 20, 010 dinars (174 euros) was established last April when the cost of a working hour was raised from 102 to 115 dinars, which was the highest increase in previous ten years. This value, however, was diminished by inflation in the months to come and it is bound to stay at this level till the end of this year.
The proofs for this statement are recent statistical data showing price and wage levels in Serbia and over the border. While in Serbia since May 2012 the increase in food prices has been 12.9 %, in Croatia and Montenegro it's been 6.5 %, in Macedonia 5.3 % in Slovenia 3.3 % and in Bosnia and Herzegovina only 0.1 %!
Immediately after learning the sad news about the death of one more FIAT worker, this time in Pomigliano factory near Naples, the CATUS has sent a solidarity message to Italian Metal Workers' Unions and all trade union organizations - members of the company’s world network. Signed by its Vice-President Mihajlovic, the letter says:
“With great pain and distress we received the sad news about the death of one more FIAT worker in factory.
Two biggest Serbian unions, highly irritated by the new Government measures which include lay-offs in state administration, increase in electricity price and more restrictions, announced their return to streets and a new wave of strikes and other forms of protest. The CATUS has even planned a general strike aimed at sensitizing the public and putting more pressure on the Government.
For a long time Serbia has a chronical problem of unemployment. According to the data from the National Employment Agency, at the beginning of this year 778, 579 unemployed persons were recorded in its files. On average they are in search of a job for 3.6 years, while around 8.8% of them wait for a job longer than 10 years.
In 2013 the number of complaints denouncing the misdeeds of employment agencies considerably increased. The agencies are accused of using loop-holes in the existing legislation and violating massively workers’ rights. Very often workers they hire are transferred to a factory without fully knowing the nature of the contract and exact rights they are entitled to.
Closing the session that not long ago was held in Kragujevac, the capital of Sumadija region, the unionists concluded that no recovery of Serbian society was feasible without radical change of country’s judiciary system and more intensive Government intervention in economy.
Asking workers to do many different jobs for a single wage has become quite familiar in Serbia. More and more the employers impose on their employees obligations that made no part of the original contract. The notion of worker doing only one job at his working place has already been “overcome” as modern capitalists think their staff should do anything necessary during the stipulated working time.
Members of Trade Union of Science and Research of Serbia ended their protest after three hours and thirty minutes because the Ministry of Education promised that the budget rebalance would not reduce the resources dedicated to projects and salaries.
Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia estimates that the Program of measures presented by the Serbian Government is mostly unacceptable for the employees and citizens of Serbia. The Program is very superficial, without a serious and deep analysis and envisages only the austerity measures and reduction of necessary investments.
The legal acts necessary for such take-over are already prepared and will enable the payments that should start at the beginning of July. The acts will also facilitate the solution of another problem i.e. maintenance of road net till the end of this year.
The Minister of Finance and Economy Dinkic confirmed the existence of a budget rebalance agreement made within the ruling coalition and said the Parliamentary debate on that issue would start on July 1. He announced the meeting with representatives of Fiscal Council and unions which would take place before the proposal was discussed by the MPs and assured that he, as well as Prime Minister Dacic and other ministers, would be present.
At the meeting that was held in the premises of Serbian Government the the CATUS was represented by President Orbovic and Vice Presidents Mihajlovic, Potezica and Zarubica, while the Government’s representatives were Vice-President and Minister of Labour Krkobabic, Secretary of the Ministry of Labour Martinovic and MP Colakovic.
Whether the workers in Serbia will be more easily dismissed starting from the next year, without the employers being obliged to re-employ them, will depend on the new Labour Law which is supposed to be adopted, as it has been announced, by the end of this year.
In the communiqué sent to all Serbian media, the CATUS analyses the main reasons for workers' and citizens’ concerns: decreasing production and growing unemployment, increase of prices, impoverishment of a large part of society, growing informal sector, lack of financial discipline and accumulation of private and public debt. The new, recently published economic measures of Serbian Government and future modifications of Labour Law are seen as further attack on people who are already living in very difficult conditions and are fully exhausted by past reforms.
According to the new draft on the expiration of tax obligations in Serbia, at the time when an employee retires it could be established that the employer wasn't conscientious ten years ago. He hadn't respected the law and paid contributions for pension insurance for 2 years while now the employee doesn't even have a chance to sue that employer.
This optimistic statement was delivered by the Ministar of Finance and Economy Dinkic after he disclosed the most important economic measures contained in the new Government “package”. He stated that the measures to be taken were mostly “painful but necessary'' and insisted that taking them next year would cause much more suffering.
In his recent letter to Tomislav Nikolic, CATUS President Orbovic expressed our confederation's discontent with the way the last series of fiscal laws had been adopted. One more time it got obvious that Serbia was still far from the rule of law which was a common ideal of all Serbian citizens and political parties.