Informal sector in Serbia Resisting Reforms

10. October 2019  •    Further

Zoran Mihajlović In spite the intense efforts to suppress the informal work, many workers are still ready to receive wages without employers’ contributions paid to workers’ social funds. Only in the first eight months of the 2019 the Labour Inspection inspected 40,000 companies and found 9,747 workers without regular work contracts.
It seems that employers are so satisfied with their profits that they would rather pay heavy fines stipulated by the law than register the staff.

Public Utilities Union: Strike if
Government Doesn’t Increase Salaries

8. October 2019  •    Further

logo Employees in Serbian public utilities are resolute in their decision and are already preparing themselves for the action planned for October 16. The strike will start if the government by October 9 does not respond positively to union’s claim for higher salaries.
The decision to prepare a strike was taken at October 3rd session of the Presidency of the Union of Employees in Communal and Housing Industry of Serbia.

Entertaining Industry:
Labour Inspection Taking an Offensive

7. October 2019  •    Further

Dragisa Golubovic Autumn in Serbia will be gloomy for musicians and employers violating the recently signed collective agreement in entertaining industry. The enhanced controls will follow soon and those caught while illicitly breaching the regulation will face heavy fines.
The news was announced at the seminar organized by the Labour Inspectorate of Serbia and the Autonomous Union of Entertainers of Serbia at the end of September in Vrnjacka Banja.

Serbian Workers’ Victory in Strasbourg

26. September 2019  •    Further

Strasbourg Court_logo European Court for Human Rights passed two judgments ordering Serbian government to pay 2,000 euros to each of the employees in public corporations whose right to a trial within a reasonable time was violated as they were claiming their wage arrears before the domestic courts. In both cases Serbian courts did order the payment (in 2014 and 2016) and appellate courts did confirm the judgments, but the money (100 to 400 euros) was never paid.

Minimum Wage Increased but without Consensus

12. September 2019  •    Further

two serbian ministars Serbian government unilaterally increased the minimum wage for the next year after social partners’ failure to agree. Instead of 155 dinars (1.3 euros), it will be 172 dinars (1.46 euros) per hour. It means that per month those doomed to receive it will get 30,000 instead of 27,000 dinars (254 instead of 228 euros). Minister of Finance, Mali, said it was the “biggest increase of minimum wage ever recorded in the history of Serbia”.

Unpaid Overtime in Serbia -
Threat to Workers’ Health and Privacy

10. September 2019  •    Further

ilustration In Serbia, the rules governing the overtime are very clear, but there is a wide gap between them and the everyday practice. All unions agree that employers (mostly in private companies) do not respect the law. This creates an additional problem to workers already exploited by low wages and non-payment of contributions. The situation in public sector and state administration is not much better, as the overtime is also usually not paid but compensated by the days-off.

Minister Mali: “Minimum Wage Will Be
Increased by More than 10%”

9. September 2019  •    Further

Minister Siniša Mali The minimum wage in Serbia is not sufficient for a decent life, while the “freezing” of salaries in public sector has considerably increased the number of those who get it, said CATUS President Orbovic at the round table organised in our premises. “Around 350.000 workers receive that poor amount and together with generally low, stagnating wages, it is one of the reasons of migration of 50.000 youngsters who leave the country every year”, he explained and added that only by increasing the employees’ earnings it would be possible...

Serbian Pensioners: Our Spas
Are Not for Sale!

3. September 2019  •    Further

ilustration Association of Pensioners’ Trade Unions of Serbia – APTUS (a member of the CATUS) demands the abrogation of a decision taken by the national Pension and Disability Insurance Fund according to which famous spas in Kursumlija and Vranje are to be privatized. Besides, the Association has announced a lawsuit against the Fund as two spas are pensioners’ private property and Fund Administration Board (where the Government has the majority of votes) has no right to dispose of them.

Serbia Facing Serious Labour Shortage

28. August 2019  •    Further

ilustration The first symptoms are already appearing –you find kiosks, shops and restaurants covered with notices advertising free work places everywhere. The unions are convinced that the only way to solve the problem is the pay rise. The situation is alarming as in some supermarkets there are important departments completely lacking staff in the afternoon. Very often you see retirees maintaining roads – the young have left and the deadlines are to be respected.

Sebian Prime Minister:
There is a Plan for Coal-Mine Resavica

23. August 2019  •    Further

Resavica Our Government has planned to find strategic partners for companies that have been burdening the domestic budget for years – the same was already done with “giants” such as copper mines and furnaces in Bor, steel works in Smederevo and the milk manufacturing corporation in Belgrade. Some time ago, the IMF recommended closure of the mines, but according to our Prime Minister its 3500 workers don’t have to worry: they will not be dismissed until alternative jobs have been created.

Advantages and Disadvantages
of Foreign Investment in Serbia

20. August 2019  •    Further

ilustration Last year there were 107 foreign direct investments (FDI) in various sectors of the Serbian economy, mostly in manufacturing. It is one of the reasons why we were put at the first place on the “Financial times” list ranking countries according to the ratio between size of national economy and number of FDIs. The data recently published show that last year more than 40 new factories, production lines and distribution centres were opened, attracting 57% of the total number of SDIs in the region.

Agency Work:
New Law Despite Unions’ Resistance

16. August 2019  •    Further

ilustration There is a general consensus among Serbian unions that the new law on agency work does not safeguard workers’ rights sufficiently. It’s true that agency workers will become “visible”, have the same work time and receive same wages as those who work with contracts for an indefinite time, but there is still a possibility that their temporary status might last “forever”.

IMF says 'Speed up the Reform of Salary System'

2. August 2019  •    Further

Sebastian Sosa Salary system reform represented a step towards the rationalization of the public sector, stated the IMF Resident Representative in Serbia, Sebastian Sosa, and added that the IMF welcomed a pay rise in Serbia which started at the beginning of this year both in public and private sector. He told the press that the salary reform in the public sector had been going on for years, it should have been done long time ago and the authorities in Serbia were planning to enforce the new salary system during 2020 when the assessment of fiscal implications had been completed.

Immediate Compensation for Injuries at Work

26. July 2019  •    Further

ITUC Conference Trade union data say that for the past 15 years only 30% of workers have been able to get paid for injuries at work. However, workers who get injured at work will now be able to charge for the injury and not spend so much time at courts trying to get some kind of compensation. According to the announcement of the line ministry, everybody shall be insured and the money paid immediately.

ITUC Conference in Belgrade

16. July 2019  •    Further

ITUC Conference International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) invited SEE national trade union confederations to support the campaign on minimum wage rise. It was said at the regional wage forum, held on July 16-17 in Belgrade, that the rise, as well as the strengthening of social protection, would enable decent life for workers and their families and support sustainable and inclusive development of the region.

More Information to Prevent Abuse of Posted Workers

3. July 2019  •    Further

ilustratiom Serbia faces a real exodus of workers, who usually leave the country ill-informed and are rather unprotected when they are abroad. They are not familiar with their rights and don’t know the European directives, which often makes them victims of ill-treatment or underpayment. In order to improve the position of these employees, there is a need for more information, better networking of the employees themselves and wider media coverage.

Unions Left Session of Social and Economic Council

2. July 2019  •    Further

logo The decision was a consequence of the Government’s policy in the Republican Geodetic Authority (RGA), characterised by a permanent violation of employees’ rights. The absence of the CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost representatives blocked further work of the Council, as there was no quorum for decision-making, said Minister of Labour, Djordjevic. He put it more precisely by saying that unions had not quit the Council, but demanded a special session dedicated to the subject and with the presence of Prime Minister, Brnabic.

Republic Geodetic Authority:
A Single Mom Brutally Fired

24. June 2019  •    Further

ilustration We already wrote several times about the problems in the Republic Geodetic Authority. Both CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost informed the public that its management had started displacing the employees and sending them to offices which were more than 50 kilometers away from their homes. Additionally, their salaries were being decreased and work contracts not extended – one of the victims being a single mother with three kids.

Minimum Salary: Unions for 10% Increase

19. June 2019  •    Further

Ljubisav Orbović According to an announcement made by the Minister of Finance, Mali, a new minimum salary could be fixed this autumn. While the unions fight for at least 10% increase, the employers are not ready to accept more than 6%. This year’s minimum salary was 27,000 dinars (230 euros), while the minimum consumer basket was 37,000 i.e. 314 euros.

Jurists and Teachers on Scaffold Boards –
Construction Workers Abroad

10. June 2019  •    Further

Valentina Ilić A great number of qualified construction workers already left Serbia and are working abroad. Therefore, an average construction worker in the sector is nowadays 55 years old, often has a foreign passport and works without a contract. All this must make us reflect on the quality of their work and safety of buildings they construct.

New Law on Agency Work
without Dialogue with Unions

3. June 2019  •    Further

ilustration Government and employers accepted only one out of eight remarks the unions made at the session of Social and Economic Council, agreeing namely that in case the workers’ rights are violated, these might sue not only the agency, but the employer as well – paying court fees only once. It’s a rather weak consolation after a refusal of other seven, more important, amendments.

Orbovic Left Session
of Social and Economic Council

31. May 2019  •    Further

SEC Session CATUS President did it because he was “highly dissatisfied” by the way the management treated workers who took part in a strike organized in the Republic Geodetic Authority (RGA).
“While the Council was discussing the problems related to social dialogue, our members were being transferred from one work place to another, contrary to the agreement reached with the government of Serbia and stipulating they would not be punished for their participation in the strike”, said Orbovic ...

Local Social and Economic Councils in Crisis

26. May 2019  •    Further

# Recently, an important conference has been held in Prolom banja, with a participation of delegates representing social and economic councils of the capital cities of Serbia, Bulgaria, North Macedonia, Republic Srpska and Albania. The objective was to analyse the functioning of social dialogue at local level and draw conclusions necessary for further action.

FIAT Workers Upset by the News
on Prolongation of Paid Leave

24. May 2019  •    Further

# Workers of FIAT Chrysler Serbia (FCA) factory in Kragujevac got worried when they learnt from some media that the company management would soon ask the competent Ministry to consent to additional 95 days (besides the legally allowed 45) of paid leave.

White Collars: Negotiations with
Prime Minister Shipwrecked

22. May 2019  •    Further

# Presidents of Autonomous Trade Union of Judiciary Employees and Autonomous Civil Servants Union, Milosevic and Potezica, met Prime Minister Brnabic and Minister of State Administration and Local Self-Government Ruzic, in order to negotiate a new collective agreement, especially the issue of per diem allowances, and hot meal/annual leave compensation.

CATUS Delegation Meets the IMF Mission

16. May 2019  •    Further

# Representatives of CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost met in Belgrade with the new chief of the IMF Mission in Serbia, Jan Kees Martijn. The meeting took place in the National Bank of Serbia, the main issues on the agenda being the salaries, pensions, minimum wage and fiscal policy. Martijn presented the IMF program (which has already been approved by Serbian Government) and listened to a trade union presentation on current economic and social situation, main challenges to our economy and future economic perspectives.

Humiliation of Workers in Serbia
Seems to Have No End

10. May 2019  •    Further

# Increasingly brutal and irresponsible behaviour of foreign employers towards workers and trade union representatives is one more proof that the country is ruled by a wild capitalism turning Serbian workers into slaves with almost no rights. Foreign capital, exploiting our resources and employees, is slowly transforming Serbia into a country which will only be able to offer cheap labour force.

Joint Trade Unions Rally on May 1

30. April 2019  •    Further

# CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost have agreed again to commemorate the main workers’ holiday together. This year the workers will march under the banner expressing the essence of their precarious position – “Higher Wages - Key to Workers’ Survival and End of Emigration”. It’s a fact that with today’s wages the employees can only survive and are often forced to leave the country in search for better solutions.

IMF Should Help Ending
Unjust Treatment of Pensioners

27. April 2019  •    Further

President of CATUS At the forthcoming Belgrade meeting with the IMF mission the CATUS will once more demand the abrogation of penalty points for pensioners. “It will be one of the main topics on the agenda”, stated CATUS President Orbovic talking about the meeting with the representatives of the Fund, which is to take place on May 4. On his initiative the subject was already thoroughly discussed at the recent session of the Social and Economic Council, however, without the Minister of Finance being present.

Kindergarten Employees Win 9% Increase

20. April 2019  •    Further

logo After an unproductive meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Education, three major unions of kindergarten employees were preparing a strike and rally in Belgrade with mass participation of members from all parts of Serbia. The protest should have started on April 10 at 1 p.m. by the CATUS building and ended up in front of the Ministry of Education and the Government.

Kragujevac Weapon Factory: Workers’ Victory
Following Domestic and International Pressure

8. April 2019  •    Further

logo Workers came out on strike because the company trade union’s president Ilic was fired. Gathered at the assembly, they announced a general strike in case their leader was not reinstated in his work place.
The case has not passed unnoticed abroad, as the mightiest Swedish metal workers federation “IF Metal” has quickly sent a letter to the factory director Petkovic, urging him to cancel the dismissal and allow Ilic to work and perform trade union activities without being hindered by the management.

Kindergarten Teachers’ Rally on April 11

8. April 2019  •    Further

media conference The decision was taken in an attempt to direct public opinion towards problems the teachers have been confronted with for the last few years, but also to press the Government to be more active in finding a proper solution. The date was agreed by three unions organizing the event – the Autonomous Union of Pre-School Upbringing and Education, the Teachers’ Union of Serbia (both affiliated to the CATUS) and the Trade Union of Teachers (affiliated to TUC Nezavisnost).

President Orbovic in “ZASTAVA Weapons”
Factory in Kragujevac

6. April 2019  •    Further

Orbovic in ZASTAVA The urgent invitation came as a result of constant pressure on CATUS factory union and a series of accidents which involved trade union activists and their leader, Dragan Ilic. We previously wrote about the harassment he had been subjected to by the company management and the Security Intelligence Agency. This time Orbovic was accompanied by the CATUS Council Secretary, Mihajlovic and President of Kragujevac Trade Union City Council, Ristic.

SEC for Abrogation of Law on Salaries in Public Sector

26. March 2019  •    Further

SEC Social and Economic Council of the Republic of Serbia expressed its positive opinion about the abrogation of the law which has temporarily reduced salaries of public sector employees. The law has been in force since 2014 and referred to 67,000 employees in public utility companies and around 130,000 employees in public sector i.e. to the total of 200,000 employees.

Postal Workers Demand Higher Salaries
and Part of the Profit

16. March 2019  •    Further

Zoran Pavlović Part of Serbia Post staff stood up again for their rights. Since several days ago, those working in Belgrade Post Centre have been blocking the deliveries to final users from 8 p.m. 11:30 p.m. Their discontent is fully justifiable, as demands they have been making for years were constantly ignored.
President of the Postal Workers’ Union, Pavlovic, is clear: “The workers sent their claim for pay-raise to the Direction and gave them two week time to accept it.

Decent Work Programme Signed

8. March 2019  •    Further

Program for Decent Work On March 7 “Program for Decent Work 2019-2022” was signed by social partners in the premises of CATUS. Key actors at the ceremony were presidents of two largest confederations (CATUS and TUC Nezavisnost), Orbovic and Stojiljkovic, Deputy President of the Employers’ Association, Kovacevic and Minister of Labour, Djordjevic.

Fatigue Causing Deadly Accidents at Work

4. March 2019  •    Further

ilustration Last month two more workers lost their lives and one was seriously wounded at Serbian construction sites. The death-toll in 2018 has been frightening: 53 fatal accidents and thousands of wounded – the most tragic year since 2006. The victims were mostly those working in construction, the main cause of accidents - the violation of safety and health rules, extreme fatigue and exaggerated self-confidence. Speaking about the latter, President of the CATUS City Council of Novi Sad, Gvozdenovic, was, however, explicit:

Mass Exodus of Serbian Workers

28. February 2019  •    Further

ilustration To stop the exodus of workers which in last decade swept away 5% of the total population is one of the most serious challenges the country is facing nowadays. Three main reasons for the exodus are mass unemployment, low salaries and attractive well-paid jobs in the European Union. To look for a solution to this problem an entire team of experts (mostly economists, demographers and statisticians) was created.

CATUS Initiative on Penalty Points Abrogation

26. February 2019  •    Further

SEC in Kragujevac If a Serbian worker has worked the obligatory 40 years and is ready to go to pension, but is not yet 65 years old (the official age for retirement), he will have to suffer so called penalty points (reduction of pension) until he reaches that age. CATUS initiative aims at the abrogation of the points and Confederation finally managed to put it on the agenda of the Social and Economic Council.

Year 2019 to Be Year of
Health and Safety at Work

19. February 2019  •    Further

ilustration Realising the initiative of the CATUS, Serbian Parliament has decided to declare the year 2019 “a Year of Health and Safety at Work”. The decision was taken in order to sensitise the public to this issue, which is important not only to workers and employers, but to the whole society. The news was confirmed by Miss Marina Furtula, acting director of the Directorate for Health and Safety, who participated at the Regional Forum dedicated to this subject and organised by the ETUI and CATUS.

Water and City Transport to Remain Public Goods

18. February 2019  •    Further

Milan Grujić Trade Union of Employees in Public Utilities (a member of CATUS) has decided to organise an open-air session of its Council in front of the Government building in order to warn the public about dangers and challenges that the amendments to the law regulating the activities in the sector – and giving private companies possibility of managing waterworks – might bring.

Growth of Uncertainty and Anxiety in FCA

11. February 2019  •    Further

Zoran Marković Are there any plans for production of a new FIAT model here, ask themselves workers of the FCA Kragujevac? A positive answer to this question, often put even to the Italian employers, would certainly bring more tranquility into homes of many families living in the capital of Central Serbia. President of the CATUS-affiliated company trade union, Zoran Markovic, is categorical: the fact that in last two months workers spent more time at home than working, makes them increasingly anxious and perplexed about the future.

Agency Workers Still Unprotected

27. January 2019  •    Further

Zoran Mihajlović The draft of law on agency workers has not been approved by the Social and Economic Council and is to be sent back to the Work Group for corrections. However, it is already clear that two most important objections raised by trade unions – no more than 10% agency workers in company and obligatory agency deposits - were not accepted.

Scandal in LEONI: Workers Persuaded to
Accept Illegal Working Conditions

25. January 2019  •    Further

ilustration A few days ago German company LEONI withdrew the shameful document, not long ago delivered to all of its workers. Contrary to the norms of the EU labour legislation, but rather similar to those of the Third World countries, it contained the following (‘freely accepted’) obligations...

Unions against Private-Public
Deals in Public Utilities

22. January 2019  •    Further

ilustration From the very beginning of debate concerning the new Law on Public Utilities our federation in the sector (affiliated to the CATUS) was one of its most active participants. In all meetings of experts that they organized themselves, as well as in work groups established to work out the law draft, they acted as a constructive and responsible social partner.

Urgent Action Needed to Stop Brain Drain!

18. January 2019  •    Further

Coordination Team The newly established Coordination Team which is to deal with prevention of youth emigration and its coming back to Serbia had its first meeting on January 15. First President of the Team will be the Minister of Labour, Zoran Djordjevic. The CATUS, who often pointed out to this problem is also therein represented by its President, Orbovic. The concrete reason for creation of this body has been the new German law on immigration facilitating the employment of foreigners, including those coming from the non-EU countries.

Warning Strike in Judicial System

16. January 2019  •    Further

Slađanka Milošević A few days ago, the Trade Union of Employees in Judicial System (affiliated to CATUS) organized an hour warning strike in order to turn the attention of the public towards the ever-growing exploitation of employees with both permanent and fixed-term contracts in the sector. The strike did not obstruct the court sessions as, according to Union’s President Sladjanka Milosevic, only the administration staff took part in it. At the moment the Union has more than 11,000 members.

First Court Ruling in Pensioners-Government Dispute

10. January 2019  •    Further

Miša Radović Although the law on pension reduction allowing the Government to seize enormous means from Serbian pensioners between 2015 and 2018 was annulled, it will be rather difficult to appease them. The Association of Pensioners’ Trade Unions (affiliated to CATUS) has been trying for many years to sue the Government at the Constitutional Court, but the Court gave no response. Still, there is good news for the elderly, as the municipal court in North Serbian city...