Verzija na Srpskom English version


April, 2012


Yesterday, April 19 more than two thousand employees participated in the rally organized by the Autonomous Union of Employees in the NHS. Having reproached the politicians for pouring money into electoral campaign instead of improving quality of service and living standard of the employees in this important sector, they announced their main claims: amendments to the Government’s decree related to the coefficients determining their pays, and strict fulfillment of the collective agreements. In present situation 70% of these workers have wages which are under the average and do not let them live decently.

It is curious that Health Minister Stankovic insisted on delivering a speech in front of the angry workers. Although ready to bring good news (giving up the planned decrease of salaries and payment of delayed bonuses), he was met by shouts and whistles.

After having listened to the speeches of the union leaders and the minister, the protesters moved to the Government building shouting slogans and waving flags. The message was clear: if their demands are not satisfied or a new deal with the Ministry not made the union’s 65000 members are ready for the strike which should take place on April 25.

April, 2012


Neo-liberal attack on workers’ rights continues. The list of professions with a reduced length of service will be significantly modified till the end of this year. National Pension and Disability Insurance Fund will do the review of 286 professions in order to see if they should remain on the list.  At the same time demands of the companies such as NIS ‘’Naftagas’’ (oil and gas production) and JKP ‘’Gradska čistoća’’ (public utilities) will be taken into account, as well.

National Pension and Disability Insurance Fund claims that such reviews are regular because nowadays many jobs are less risky than they used to be at the time the existing list was made. The first list of professions with reduced length of service was made in the 1950s, so the corrections are necessary, they say. On the other hand, strong vibrations and noise, harmful substances, danger of fires and explosives, psychosomatic and emotional tension could be the reasons for the introduction of new benefits.

Serbian metal workers don’t look benevolently at the shortening of the list, especially in ferrous and non-ferrous metallurgy. According to the President of the Autonomous Trade Union of Metalworkers Vujovic, ’’the state is trying to transfer employers’ obligations to workers’ shoulders. It is completely illogical to review those professions where working conditions haven’t improved a bit. It’s true that out of 15, 000 employees about 20% have a reduced length of service. But they are not office workers. They are miners, smelters and workers at presses which emit temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius. They are all exposed to dangerous chemicals or work under the ground, so it is absolutely absurd to review their benefits’’.

April, 2012



Workers of the construction company „Ratko Mitrović“, are on a hunger strike demanding the payment of the remaining salaries for the past two years and continuity in the years of service. President of the Strike Committee said that the former employer owed to each worker  between 80 and 130 thousand dinars ( 715 – 1160 euros) . He mentioned that although having medical problems the workers stuck to their requests. ’’Nobody, except trade union and media representatives, came to talk to us. Our demands have not changed. We are asking the former employer to pay out what he owes us’’. Bankruptcy of this company was announced on March 19, after which all workers were laid off and the former owner declared his inability to pay out the salaries. 

Unfortunately, workers in Serbia go on a hunger strike more often than before because after being dismissed they have no other means to respond. Workers’ agony is also intensified by the Government’s Decree on unsettled liabilities of the so-called socially owned enterprises, which protects the debtors and prevents workers from charging labour related debts.  

April, 2012


"This year’s GDP growth will practically be around zero and concerning the fact that even in the time of relatively high growth the unemployment tends to increase, the rise of unemployment is to be expected too’’, shows the latest ILO study.

According to the data provided by this labour force survey, by the end of November 2011 the unemployment rate of those older than 15 rose to 23.7% (by the he end of  2008 when the global economic crisis broke out it was only 14.7%). It means that since the beginning of the century 900, 000 people have lost their jobs, half a million of them being the victims of the current economic crisis .

Besides, the study states that even though the average salary increased faster than the GDP both before and after the beginning of the crisis it is still insufficient for an average consumer’s basket. However, authors of the study confirm that in the previous years the private sector records the salary increase of 3%. That is the consequence of dismissing workers with low salaries which caused the salaries of those who kept their jobs to go up.

April, 2012


Despite the fact that just a couple of days ago at the session of the Economic and Social Council (ESC) the Employers Association accepted the increase of the minimum wage, now it demands the review of that decision saying they were led to a deception because they hadnt known how much the increase would really cost the economy of Serbia.  

  At the session held on March 12 the ESC, including the representatives of the Employers’ Association, representative trade unions and the state, decided to increase the minimum wage from 102 dinars (0.91 euros) to 115 dinars (1.03 euros). The session was presided by the president of the Employers’ Association, Atanackovic, and finished regularly without any comments. Then, at the press conference the Association announced the possibility of withdrawing from the collective agreement because, as Atanackovic said, it accepted the minimum wage on the basis of the incorrect data provided by the representative of the Ministry of Finances.

Representatives of the Association warned that the minimum wage of 115 dinars per hour could seriously endanger the macroeconomic stability of the country and lead to the closure of enterprises, dismissals and problems with the IMF.

The Association calculated that the increase of the minimum wage would force the employers to increase the salaries by 12.75% and that money doesn’t exist. According to the employers, the consequence of such a decision would be a dismissal of 50, 000 to 60, 000 workers in private companies and closure of many small and medium enterprises. Trade unions said that it wasn’t clear to them why the representatives of the Association rejected something they had accepted just a couple of days before.

April, 2012


On March 22, 2012 Slavica Savic, General Secretary of the CATUS Council, submitted the resignation on the position of the General Secretary and Council member. She asked the Council to acknowledge her resignation at its next session.

The resignation is the result of her decision to accept the proposal of the Social Democratic Party to put her name on the election list.

April, 2012

What has privatization brought us?


During the last decade privatizations of Serbian enterprises decimated the number of employees. Approximately 680, 000 people used to work there and today there are 286, 000, which is 58% less. Those who still haven’t found a job don’t find it comforting that the remaining colleagues have become much more productive.  New owners turned majority of companies - losers into companies - winners while the so called socially owned enterprises are still in the ‘’red’’. But the state didn’t always manage to find conscientious buyers, consequently almost every third sales contract was cancelled by the state authorities.

These are just some of the results provided by the Privatization Agency. According to the new law, the first privatization wave has included the sale of

1, 400 enterprises up to 2006. There are 537 enterprises still unsold while 346 sales proved to be unsuccessful. Successfully sold enterprises have increased their profit by 69%. Those which were unsuccessfully privatized are stagnating while in the cases of the sales contract cancellation  the profit was halved.

March, 2012


Economic and Social Council of the Republic of Serbia made a decision on a new amount of minimum wage. It will be 102 RSD per a working hour (net) for the period January – March 2012, and 115 RSD for the period April 2012 – February 2013. It was also agreed that the untaxable part of salaries would be 10, 000 RSD starting from April this year.

The Council has also recommended to the Labour Minister to extend the application of existing branch collective agreement in construction to all employers in the sector.

In line with the system of rotation the newly elected Council chairman will be Nebojsa Atanackovic, president of the Serbian Employers’ Association. He is replacing the current chairman Orbovic, the CATUS president, and will keep that post from March 2012 to March 2013.


March, 2012


Besides unemployment and general poverty, citizens of Serbia are additionally hit by the tendencies on the global market of petroleum products, as well as by further weakening of the national currency – dinar. Experts predict new raise of prices so that consumer’s basket which is quite modest at the moment would be a lot more expensive. Transport services have already gone up by 7 % – 10% and are followed by food, beverage and textile, and a couple of months later the same will happen to electrical appliances, furniture ...etc. However, the most painful is the rising price of food. It has been announced that food would be more expensive by 4% to even 30% because the increase of oil prices and euro exchange rate, as the producers say, sonner or later will negatively affect the price of the final product.


March, 2012


The Autonomous Trade Union of Employees in Energy and Petrochemistry of Serbia joined the action of support for Greek workers organized by the SEE Regional Network of Energy Workers’ Unions.

The day of joint solidarity action for Greek workers was organized on March 7, 2012 and the employees all around Europe were informed about the problems of Greek workers through media, trade union websites and by organizing public lectures.

What is happening today in this country is just ’’a rehearsal’’ of a much broader neoliberal experiment and that’s why it should interest all workers, especially the workers in SEE. It is about a model which could be used to put other countries in our region under a specific form of protectorate. In this case politics would be based on the same principles as the one proclaimed by the European Pact of February this year, and it would boil down to continuous reductions of  labour price and gradual weakening of labour and trade union rights.

The SEE Regional Network of Energy Workers’ Unions points out that we must be open to our societies and persuade them that current economic policy needs to be changed. Only productive restructuring of economy,  not restrictions, can be beneficial to the countries and workers.

The SEE Regional Network of Energy Workers’ Unions is ready to support workers’ struggles in every country in the region which would – similar to Greece – be attacked by the huge financial foreign capital.


March, 2012


In Serbia 19,000 unemployed people would immediately accept a job even if they had to move to another part of the country and 23,000 would cross the border if they got a chance of a large profit. As estimated by the Serbian National Employment Agency even 230, 000 of the unemployed would agree to travel for miles in one direction just to secure their job.   

These facts oppose the established opinion that workers in Serbia aren’t ready to change their place of residence in search for a job and belief that it is one of the causes of the long term unemployment. For example, last year one construction company wanted to take a thousand of construction workers to Russia and many people applied for the job. The same thing happened with this year’s offer sent to the road maintenance industry. This was also confirmed by the National Employment Agency which says that every third unemployed person would be ready to leave his/her place of residence while looking for a decent job and dealing with a serious proposal.

March, 2012


Just three years ago few of 275, 922 workers thought they would get fired soon. However, they experienced the very thing mentioned. It means that since the beginning of the economic crisis the work force in Serbia was decimated,  with the largest number of newly unemployed being from Kragujevac, Kraljevo, Krusevac, Aleksinac and Svrljig. In some federations predict that till the end of this year new 150, 000 names will be added to this ‘’black list’’.  

The biggest employment decrease was marked in the processing industry (64,134), commerce (14,763) and construction (14,243). The worst happened to the private sector, where the number of workers went from 401, 016 to only 234.459.

In November 2011 employment rate was 35.3%. Out of this 43.1% refers to men and 28.2% to women. The future doesn’t promise much more because compared to April 2008 the list of employees has been shortened by 613, 632 names, in other words by even 21.62%. Also, it should be taken into account that besides those who were dismissed the list was supplemented with the names of those who in the meantime retired, deceased or moved to other countries.

The informal employment rate is also in decrease. In November 2011 it was 2.1% lower than in April. This has a specific importance because 700, 000 people are involved in the informal economy and 30% of the country’s GDP is produced in this sector.

The latest data from the National Employment Agency show 735, 053 citizens hope to get a job and that is over 23% of the total active population.

March, 2012


After a discussion which took months, at the session held on March 1, 2012 CATUS Council decided that the biggest trade union confederation wouldn’t give direct support to the political parties or coalitions participating in the upcoming elections in Serbia.

Following previous decision of the Council, CATUS representatives spent months talking to the representatives of parliamentarian parties about their proposals for the solution of the crisis and possible forms of cooperation which could contribute to the realization of trade union objectives and workers’ interests.

In concrete and constructive talks, parties mostly accepted demands formulated by the CATUS in its Platform and thus showed their willingness to be socially responsible.

 Having in mind the seriousness of the problem and depth of the crisis, we expect that straight after the elections and creation of the new government our demands would be realized through the adoption of concrete measures. We also expect history not to be repeated and promises from the campaign not to remain on the level of pre-election rhetoric.

We stay true to the idea that only social partnership and tripartite dialogue, along with mutual respect and consistent realization of what has been agreed, lead to sustainable development and better life in Serbia. In the future we’ll insist on these principles and be ready to use all legitimate means of trade union struggle if they aren’t respected.

February, 2012

CATUS and DP meeting

Necessary control and corrective roles of trade unions

In connection with pre-electoral activities CATUS representatives have recently talked with the representavies of the Democratic Party (DP) as well.

CATUS delegation was led by President Orbovic, while DP was headed by the Deputy President Djilas.

They jointly concluded that the citizens of Serbia were right to be dissatisfied with their economic and social position and it was necessary to create a system which would guard exisiting jobs and initiate recovery and economic growth, primarily through substantial  internal resources. To this end, it is necessary to establih control and corrective roles of trade unions.

Commenting on the idea of direct trade union political engagement CATUS President Orbovic has pointed out that ‘’unfortunately, social dialogue didn’t give expected results primarily because the agreements weren’t respected. Therefore, we’ve got the idea that the trade union should start thinking about new work methods which would provide better protection of members’ and employees’ interests’’.

Mr. Djilas said that a huge budget deficit mustn’t be resolved by the reduction of salaries. On the contrary, the savings should come from public procurements where it’s necessary to set up a system preventing the squandering of money from the state budget. He was precise that ‘’neither Government should save on the salaries of nurses, doctors, teachers and policemen, nor the businessmen on the salaries of their employees, since the decrease of salaries and pensions would mean weaker purchasing power and economic activities’’.

February, 2012



Judging by the ‘Eurostat’ data Serbia is among 10 cheapest countries of Europe where the prices are almost 50% lower than in the EU. However, due to modest salaries citizens’ purchasing power is among the weakest in the region.

 Lower salaries exist only in Macedonia, where the prices are lower by 56% than the European average. Regarding the salaries in the region the highest ones are in Croatia and Slovenia, while Serbia is preceded by both Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.


February, 2012



Minister of labour and social policy of Serbia Ljajic signed the decision on the extended effect of branch collective agreement in chemical industry of Serbia, applying to all employers in the field.

That decision, binding for all employers in the branch, will provide higher level of protection for all  45, 000 employees.

Ljajic explained that the extension confirmed the rights envisaged by the Labour Law, and also precisely regulated the height of hot meal (amounting to 20% of the minimum wage), as well as vacation bonus (equalling the minimum wage).

He estimated that the extended effect of the agreement would be very important in chemical industry in which the number of workers was reduced by 50% due to unsuccessful privatizations and economic crisis. 

President of the Autonomous Trade Union of Workers in Chemical Industry of Serbia Nestorovic said that the extended effect would be applied starting from March 1, 2012 and would be valid for three years.  

CATUS president Orbovic complimented the extension of the agreement, stressing that it would improve workers’ position and protect them better.

February, 2012

CATUS and SDPS meeting


Continuing the debate with political parties CATUS representatives have recently met the leaders of SDPS (Social Democratic Party of Serbia), part of the ruling coalition.  

At the meeting it was concluded that social justice and rights of workers and socially marginalized people are a common denominator of both CATUS and SDPS.

Demanding that state engages itself more in overcoming the crisis, CATUS president Orbovic pointed out that ‘’foreign investments were desirable, but it was us who had to initiate economic activities, and consequently the foreign capital would arrive’’.

SDPS president Ljajic said that trade unions were natural partners and allies of that party, and no matter whether CATUS would politically engage itself or stay aside, after the elections SDPS should cooperate with the trade union in further reforms ‘’because only united they could improve social dialogue in Serbia’’.

The CATUS Platform was acceptable and the majority of demands was realistic and feasible, estimated Ljajic.  

February, 2012




Representatives of the CATUS and Serbian Progressive Party (SPP) discussed basic orientation and concrete demands of our trade union.  

Presidents of two organizations Orbovic and Nikolic agreed that trade union’s platform was almost identical to the main objectives of the Serbian Progressives. They couldn’t be realized immediately, but if the SPP formed the government the foundation for their realization would be laid down.

Both presidents underlined the fact that the meeting hadn’t dealt with the placement of union leaders on electoral list of the SPP nor with possible engagement in ministries in the case the Progressives formed the government. 

However, Orbovic said that CATUS wanted to keep control over the execution of the possible agreement. He added that Confederation ‘’had started meditating different ways of its engagement after having been confronted with the extremely critical situation in the country. Strikes and rallies can help solving only particular problems and have mostly short-term consequences while the union’s Platform provides wider perspective to Serbian citizens’’.

February, 2012


Recently the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia has created a Platform for the talks with political parties containing basic aims and demands of the CATUS.  

The platform contains CATUS basic positions and concrete demands which will be discussed in the continuation of talks with parliamentarian parties.

At the session on March 1, 2012 the CATUS Council will make a decision on a possible political engagement and ways of cooperation with those parties that are ready to accept aims and demands of the CATUS.

February, 2012


Dismissals are the first and most obvious consequence of the overflow of crisis into Serbia. This is also confirmed by the newest research ’Study about restructuring – Serbia in 2012’. Even 90% of the polled companies think that restructuring actually means dismissing workers. Trade unions already fear that dismissals would be continued. The first ones to take the blow are companies which are about to go bankrupt. If the crisis strikes hard, economists estimate the number of dismissals would reach 100, 000. We witnessed this during the first surge of crisis as well. At that time everybody reacted slowly and 2008 passed without many dismissals. However, 240, 000 people lost their jobs in 2009.

Reduction of salaries will continue further on. According to the level of salaries Serbia takes one of the last places among the countries in the region. There is only Macedonia behind it. If dismissals go on, there are few families in which at least one member won’t be left without the salary. If the fact that around 55, 000 people are working without being paid is added to this, the situation is very difficult.

January, 2012

CATUS and Democratic party leadership meeting


CATUS representatives talked to the delegation of the Democratic party about the economic situation in the country, problems torturing workers in Serbia and solutions on how to overcome economic crisis.

Numerous questions posed by the CATUS Presidency members, presidents of autonomous trade unions and municipal councils were answered by the president of the Democratic party Boris Tadic, his Deputy Dragan Djilas and Vice-President of that party Dusan Petrovic.

After a three hour meeting in the CATUS premises, which Tadic assessed to be excellent but very difficult, he answered the journalists’ questions together with the CATUS president Orbovic.

Orbovic said that topics of the meeting dealt exclusively with the economy and nobody mentioned politics, but issues concerning the future of today’s and upcoming generations.

„This was a closing meeting which CATUS orgnized with parliamentarian parties in Serbia, with the aim to find the best possible solutions for the country’s exit from the crisis. What is a democratic step forward is the fact that we managed to talk to both parties in opposition and the ruling parties in the last couple of months and none of them was angry becasue we wanted to hear everybody’s view on the how to solve the problems“, Orbovic said.

According to his words, representatives of the biggest trade union confederation in Serbia pointed out to numerous problems that employees are faced with, low living standard, bad privatization, low level of social dialogue, as well as mistakes made by the authorities in the previous period.  

„The conversation was open, dynamic and full of questions and I think that both sides were satisfied in the end“, Orbovic concluded.

Tadic said „ many remarks given by the trade union were justified because sometimes things could seem different when looking from the trade union point of view than when looking from the point of view of country’s leaders“. Having admitted that „many mistakes were made in the past“, he added that today’s main issue was how to save existing potentials and possibly ensure further development in such circumstances.

At the same time he expressed readiness to meet more frequently with trade unions in the future so that they would come to joint solutions to the problems.

January, 2012


Initiated by the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (CATUS) and the president Orbovic, the meeting of Serbian trade union presidents who considered forms of cooperation and joint actions was held in the CATUS premises.

The meeting was attended by the representatives of CATUS, Confederation of Free Trade Unions, United Trade Unions of Serbia ‘’Sloga’’ and Industrial Trade Unions of Serbia.

Having learnt from their previous successful experience, trade union representatives agreed that concerning the problems which citizens, workers and trade unions would be confronted with in 2012 joint trade union actions was the only right way to solve existing difficulties and prevent new ones.

It was agreed that the next meeting, at which individual trade union positions about joint activities will be defined more clearly, would be organized soon.

January, 2012

CATUS president interviewed by Novosti


President of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (CATUS) announced that trade unions would use all allowed means in order to prevent new dismissals. ‘First of all, we’d use agreement. If we can’t reach it, we’ll use strikes and protests which could remind us of ‘’Greek scenario’’ to a great extent’.

‘People simply can’t bear this situation any more. There will certainly be fewer strikes because people who work, even those who earn little, consider themselves privileged – which is shameful. However, streets will be swamped by not only employees but also youth, unemployed, hungry people. This is a great population which can no longer live like this, Orbovic said to «Novosti».

According to what he said, the trade union would fight so that there would be no new dismissalsbecause the number of workers is equal to the number of pensioners, and when you add the unemployed to this it is clear that any further reduction of employees would be catastrophic’’.

Mentioning ‘’Greek scenario", he said it wasnt possible to predict when something similar would happen. But if construction, agriculture and industrial production aren’t encouraged and, if new jobs aren’t created, such danger exists.  

Orbovic reminded that 250, 000 jobs «disappeared» in the last three years - despite the optimism of politicians who claimed that Serbia would profit in the crisis. CATUS hasn’t still made a final decision about its political involvement, but the decision could be made very quickly.

January, 2012


The average net salary in Serbia was RSD 48, 887 (414 euros) in December 2011. That is realistically by 15.2% and nominally by 14.4% higher than in November 2011, as it was announced by the Statistical office of the Republic of Serbia.

According to the data provided by the Statistical office net salary in December was realistically higher by 3.6% than in the same month in 2010 and nominally by 10.9%.Gross salary in December 2011 was realistically higher by 3.9% than a year before, and the nominal increase of average gross salary was 11.2%.

January, 2012


All banks in Serbia will soon be obliged to allow the payment of employees salaries only if taxes and compulsory contributions for social insurance have been paid at the same time.

If there isn’t enough money on a company’s account for a simultaneous payment of salaries, taxes and contributions, bank will allow the payment only of a proportional section of salaries and corresponding taxes and contributions. These novelties were prescribed by the amendments to the “Law on tax procedure and tax administration” which have recently been adopted by the Serbian Parliament.

"Banks which allow the payment of salaries without a simultaneous payment of adequate taxes and contributions will need to pay a fine which corresponds to the amount of unpaid taxes and contributions, increased by 50%", says the new Law.

Also, the novelty is the list of tax debtors citizens and enterprises which will be published straight after the Law has been enforced. This way the public will finally know who meets the obligations and who doesn’t.

January, 2012


Besides numerous promises and adopted government’s measures, construction industry in Serbia keeps sinking while the increasing number of construction workers is dismissed.

This year between five and six thousand construction workers lost their jobs. Additionally the activities in construction industry will be further minimized in the next year, announced by the CATUS federation of construction workers.  

‘’Almost every year the number of construction workers is reduced by about 5%’’, emphasizes the president of that trade union Dusko Vukovic.

State program aimed to help construction workers with around 245 projects produced certain results, but these measures aren’t sufficient to take this sector out of the crisis. At the moment there are approximately 110, 000 workers in the sector. The problem is that more and more people work in the informal sector.

National Trade Union Board adopted the “2012 Declaration” which demands strict application of the branch collective agreement and stimulating measures of support for the construction companies. This means that housing loans should be given on more favourable conditions and companies helped to become more competitive abroad.

 Vukovic points out that in the next year only the employers who respect collective agreements should be entitled to participate in public procurements. Also, it is necessary that state creates measures aimed at reducing work in the informal sector and founds a special Ministry responsible for construction industry.

January, 2012

Trade Unions against the privatization of public utilities


Trade unions of employees in public utilities of Serbia collected 110, 000 signatures in order to initiate referendum with the following question: ’Are you against the entry of private capital into public utilities of Serbia and giving them into concession?’.

It was a part of a joint action of trade unions of employees in public  utilities of Serbia affiliated to the CATUS, ASNS, UGS ’Nezavisnost’ and ’Sloga’, initiated with the aim to stop the „Law on public utilities, public-private partnership and concession“ from entering parliamentary procedure.

The signatures, collected by the trade unionists, have already been submitted to the Serbian Parliament.

 "Unless the Serbian Parliament decides to hold a referendum, we will organize a general protest by the end of January’’, announced the president of the CATUS federation of employees in public utilities, Milan Grujić.

According to what he said, trade unions were not opposed to the entry of foregin capital into some fields of economy. However, they do their best so that the essential fields such as water supply, discharge of garbage, remote heating, tram and trolley bus transportation and right to a decent funeral remain state property.

Trade union representatives announced that the demand concerning this law’s constitutionality would soon be submitted to the Constitutional Court.

 Saying goodbye to the journalists Grujić said that having in mind how the entire Serbian economy was ruined in the past, it was very probable the same would happen to public utilities, something trade unions can’t allow in any way. They wish public utilities to be saved and jobs kept.

January, 2012


Endless working week, work left to be done on weekends or not enough days off are a real torture for at least 150, 000 Serbian workers. According to the survey of the Social and Economic Council of Serbia even 30% of companies don’t respect legal norms concerning working hours, employees’ right to a half an hour break during the working time nor the right to a weekly or annual leave.

Out of 2, 391 companies which changed their owner in the last five years only 1, 673 of them obey legal provisions regulating working hours while the other ones ignore them.

“In Serbia workers are increasingly abused and kept at work much longer than it is allowed by the law’’, estimates the CATUS Vice-President Vukovic.

Afraid of losing their jobs the employees rarely stand up to this and almost never complain. The biggest abuses are present in the construction industry, then in commerce and catering.

As it was shown by the ‘Infostud’ survey even 69% of the polled take their work home. Besides, almost everybody (94%) intensively thinks about work even when they leave the offices.

Vukovic clarifies that the Labour Law regulates a working year of 2,080 hours and even if the overtime hours are added it can’t exceed 2,496 hours because that is a legal maximum. Anything going beyond is considered a violation of law. However, not many people venture to report their employers and such cases boil down to exceptions.

Also, according to the ‘Infostud’ survey employees most often work between 41 and 50 hours a week, 31% of them work below 40 hours while 20% prolong their working week by more than 10 hours and spend at work more than 50 hours.

January, 2012


According to the data provided by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, at the end of 2011 Serbia managed to increase its GDP by 1.9% and industrial production by 2.2% comparing to the last year. The biggest increase of production was recorded in the field of electric energy while the biggest fall was registered in commerce.

The rise of economic activities wasn’t followed by new jobs. On the contrary, the number of employees was reduced by 2.8% which means that another 50, 000 jobs were lost. This is pretty disturbing when we all know the unemployment rate is 22.8% and the majority of the unemployed are young people and those who wait for an employment more than a year.

January, 2012


In an interview to the Belgrade daily newspaper “Blic”, the president of the Serbian Federation of Employees in Banks and Insurance Companies (BOFOS) Mara Erdelj said that restructuring caused by the crisis had forced many banks to close some of their branch offices and dismiss employees. This trend will last as the number of loans for the public has been stagnating and there is less work.

She warned that the restructuring of banks owned by Greek and Italian companies has not started yet. Two Greek banks (“Alfa” and EFG”) merged and some dismissals are expected in Greece, she added. The merger will probably affect their Serbian branch offices as well.

The consequence of reforms made in “Vojvodjanska banka”(owned by the National bank of Greece) were 146 dismissals. The main reason for redundancies was the introduction of new technologies.

The case of “Erste banka” is somewhat different: although some of branch offices were closed, the employer respected workers’ interests to the maximum. Those who have the status of the only family member with a job were allowed to keep their jobs, while some employees were given possibility of working four hours a day, which saved many jobs. The problem of pre-retirement of elder workers and contributions which had to be paid to them was also solved satisfactorily.

The way the employees of the National Bank of Serbia were saved was a real miracle: the new law on protection of banks’ clients made it necessary for them to check the concordance of their commercial contracts with that legal act. So while the checking procedure is going on there will be no new dismissals.

December, 2011


Citizens of Serbia are about to experience very difficult 2012, and a lot of things will depend on tendencies in the Euro zone.  

Situation is additionally complicated by the fact that elections are to be organized in the middle of the next year. Our experience tells us that the economic policy isn’t changed at the time of the elections and the system isn’t drastically reformed.

The fact is that in 2012 we won’t have a much better life than last year. Especially if taken into account that in the next year GDP will grow only by 1.5% (the IMF says 2%).  

The slowing down of the economic growth could cause serious problems in the fiscal sphere. We will know more when we see the 2012 budget.  

 The president of the Economic Institute Aleksandar Vlahovic, during whose mandate Serbian economy was privatized according to the neoliberal model, thinks that despite what people say the Government of Serbia must finally reform the public sector. There is no more space for fiscal savings, so partial privatizations of state-owned enterprises and reform of the pension system are two key moves the Government should make.

Data from the latest issue of ‘’Macroeconomic analysis and trends’’ add to the pessimistic view of the future: economy as a whole, industrial production and turnover of goods are decreasing and falling below the last year’s average. Trade deficit persists and dismissals continue.

December, 2011



A few days ago representatives of trade unions and employers signed branch collective agreements for the metal and chemical industry of Serbia. On behalf of the Autonomous Trade Union of Employees in Chemical Industry of Serbia this was done by the president Ljubisa Nestorovic, and by the president Zoran Vujovic for the Autonomous Trade Union of Metal Workers of Serbia. On behalf of employers the agreement was signed by the Director of the Employers’ Organization, Dragan Marjanovic. 

Having signed the agreement Vujovic said that ‘’the act opened a new chapter in the work of the trade unions and employers characterized by better understanding between social partners’’. He said he hoped that new agreements would be implemented and would improve working conditions.

Nestorovic added that signing of the agreement represented ’’ the end of agony lasting for years’’, and showed the way the country should follow in order to get out of the crisis. ’’At the same time we sent the message to the political oligarchy saying that compromise can be achieved and it is the only solution to the problem of the economic re-start’’, he stressed. 

Director Marjanovic said the state didn’t take care of other social partners, while this move of the employers and unions showed their concern about the society and future of the country.


December, 2011


Presidents of three unions signed it in Sarajevo on November 30, 2011.

The agreement envisages joint trade union training, collecting, processing and exchange of information, exchange of knowledge and relevant texts, common struggle for more effective social dialogue, activities contributing to safeguarding jobs and improving working conditions, as well as the exchange of opinions concerning laws and other regulations.

The agreement was signed under the auspices of the Vice-President of the European textile and metal workers’ federation Dirk Uyttenhove who underlined the importance of this act because all textile unions in the region are confronted with the same problems.

President of the Bosnian federation Omanovic said that the agreement is the result of the already existing cooperation as highly disloyal Asian competitors represent serious threat to local textile, leather and footwear industries.

President of the Textile Workers’ Trade Union of the Republic of Srpska Danko Ruzicic reminded that textile workers in the whole region were in a quite unfavourable position forcing them to create the ‘’common front’’.

According to the words of the president of the Trade Union of Textile, Leather and Footwear Workers of Sebia, Radojko Jovanovic, the situation is extremely difficult and the employees are dismissed on everyday basis.

December, 2011

Social and Economic Council publishes the results of its survey


The effects of the privatization in Serbia were rather negative as the major part of the privatized companies got weaker, many were closed down, a great number of workers were dismissed and rights of those still working limited. 

According to the data of the Privatization Agency 3700 companies were privatized between 2002 and 2011. In the same period the Agency annulled 636 contracts in which certain irregularities were disclosed.

The survey based on a representative sample encompassing 417 privatized companies in 15 Serbian cities shows that 65 per cent of them do not exist any more or are to be closed. The number of workers in those still operating has decreased by 45 per cent, the wages are mostly at the pre-privatization level and irregularly paid in every other company. The number of workers on fixed time contracts has increased. Before the privatization all companies had a collective agreement while nowadays only one of five has it. The survey has also shown that only in 25 per cent of companies the owners have invested more than stipulated by the contract, while in 20 per cent of them they did not invest at all or even partly sold company’s property.

However, it would be difficult “to destroy everything that was done and start from the beginning” - it is much better to try to correct mistakes and keep on building an efficient market economy.

Taking into consideration the fact that big pubic companies will also be privatized soon, the lesson we learned should be an admonition and mistakes committed in the past should not be repeated.

The survey was made in order to show the importance of the privatization contracts’ control and substantial role the social partners play in the restructuring of public sector – only taking these two facts into consideration the effects of that process will be more positive than they were in the case of the private sector.

December, 2011

SDP President visits CATUS Council


Social justice, protection of workers rights and rights of socially vulnerable groups are the common denominator of CATUS and Serbian Social Democratic Party (SDP) policies.

This is what presidents Orbovic and Ljajic told the journalists after the meeting of the CATUS Presidency members, presidents of various CATUS federations and SDP representatives.  

This was the continuation of talks that the CATUS has been organizing with representatives of parliamentarian parties in order to hear their proposals for the country’s exit from the crisis.

Orbovic and Ljajic stressed that the largest trade union confederation and the SDP have very similar, even identical positions concerning the future and development of the country, especially in the social and economic domains.

Ljajic, who is also the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, said that trade unions were ’’genuine partners and allies of the SDP’’ and regardless of whether his party would be politically engaged or ’’stay aside’’ it should cooperate with the trade union in further reforms because ’’only together they could improve social dialogue in Serbia’’.

It was also agreed that finding solutions for the problems of high unemployment and cooruption must be the priority of every government and that strengthening social dialogue was necessary, especially at the time of crisis. 

Ljajic estimated that crisis would last longer than we expected and consequently Serbia would face ‘’great challenges in 2012’’. Therefore, an agreement and collaboration with the strongest trade union organizations are needed. In accordance with this, he underlined that the amendments to the Labour Law should be reached only through dialogue with social partners.  

According to its leader, the Social Democratic Party is very interested in signing the agreement with the trade unions.

"If we took part in the future government,  we would ask  the post of Minister of Labour to be occupied by a trade union representative’’, Ljajic said.

To the journalist’s question related to this offer, Orbovic replied that unionists did not consider such moves and it wasn’t the motive that pushed them into politics.

He emphasized that at the November 29 session of Social and Economic Council the amendments to the Labour Law sent by the Ministry of Labour, namely  the section concerning the regulation of fixed term employment, would not be accepted by the CATUS.

December, 2011


The change of the Serbian Criminal Code, referring to a deliberate bankruptcy which will be treated as a criminal act and punished by a prison sentence and seizure of property, is supported by businessmen, receivers and trade union representatives.

State secretary in the Ministry of justice and the president of the working group for the Amendment to the Criminal Code, Slobodan Homen, said the intention was to stop the avoidance of responsibilities to the state, other companies and employees who are most often left not only without their salaries, but also without paid contributions for social and health insurance.   

Those who know a lot about this issue state that the ‘’production of bankruptcy’’ became a profitable business a long time ago. Also, the overall number of cases which can’t be executed because a certain company went bankrupt is higher than the number of all other final judgments in Serbia – as Homen claims. There are at least 500, 000 such cases.

Even existing regulations treat a deliberate bankruptcy of a company as a criminal act. However, if the offender was to serve his time, the intention to harm the creditors should be proven and that is very hard to do, says an experienced receiver who wants to stay anonymous.   

‘’The novelty in the Criminal Code could be the provision according to which a prison sentence will be followed by the seizure of property. Now the owner of a company with a limited liability can’t be deprived of property settling the debt to the creditors, including the state’’.  

There are a lot more cases in which an owner founds several companies. When the account in one company is blocked and while waiting for the completion of bankruptcy procedure which won’t satisfy the creditors, the owner continues working with the same assets transferred into one of new companies. Serbian Business Registers Agency registers a new company of such owner at the price of 500 euros while it doesn’t previously check its business history, which shouldn’t happen.

‘’Production of bankruptcy’’ was widespread in a disgraceful Serbian privatization. The buyers would get the company into enormous debts and the money received from a loan or sold goods would be brought into another company of their own or in the possession of friends and relatives. If a good company is at stake, an ‘’ally’’ is found to buy company’s products at ‘’extremely’’ low prices and resell them at higher prices to the next buyer. This way a complete profit stays outside the privatized company and is often used to fulfill the investment obligations arising from the privatization agreement or even settle the remaining debt to the Privatization Agency.

December, 2011


Recently public utilities workers have protested in the streets of Belgrade demanding that the Draft of Law on public utilities and private - public partnership be withdrawn from the Parliamentarian procedure.

The protest at Nikola Pasic sq. in the city center was jointly organized by the Trade Union of Employees in Public Utilities of Serbia (CATUS member), Federation of Public Utilities Workers ‘’Nezavisnost’’ and United Trade Unions of Serbia ‘’Sloga’’.  

Trade unions said they were protesting because at the time when these drafts were being prepared no one took into consideration their point of view, nor the view of experts and representatives of public utilities. They ask for a referendum so that the citizens could have the possibility to express their opinion about this ‘’vital issue which is in the national interest’’.  Trade unions point out to the fact that Serbian authorities promised domestic and foreign investors that they would make enormous profit based on exploiting Serbian water resources and strategically important goods.

The march of a couple of thousand employees started at Nikola Pasic sq, and then it was continued by protests in front of the buildings of the Serbian Government, Parliament and Ministry of Economy.

On that occasion trade union representatives said clearly to the authorities that ‘’sale of Serbian waters’’ would not be allowed. There were even some harsher words, such as mentioning ‘’labour revolution as apparently the only way for workers to change something in the country whose economy is in ruins’’. The President of the Trade Union of Employees in Public Utilities Grujic told the journalists that trade unions had been dealing with these laws for four years while the government wanted to adopt them ‘’over night’’. It is obvious that the Social-Economic Council is being avoided, the consequence of which could be the repetition of mass riots in the streets similar to those accompanying democratic changes of October 5, 2000.

At yesterday’s press conference CATUS President Ljubisav Orbovic emphasized ‘’it was unforgivable that the Law on public utilities be adopted because its importance not only for the employees in this branch but also for all citizens in Serbia’’. He added that the privatization of public utilities would have more tragic consequences than the privatization of Serbian industry and economy in general. "The experiences of countries which privatized public utilities show that there has been the immediate rise in prices, but also worsening of public utilities and numerous dismissals.

December, 2011

Regarding foreign investors’ recommendations CATUS says


The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia will use its entire means to defend workers rights and wont allow foreign investors to additionally degrade their position.

We are aware that Serbia can’t develop without foreign investments, but they shouldn’t impose slavery which doesn’t exist in their countries – it was pointed out by the representatives of the largest trade union confederation in Serbia in their response to the remarks on the domestic labour market given by the Foreign Investors Council.

The so-called ‘White book’ of foreign investors is a form of pressure on the Serbian Government to devalue workers’ rights and additionally lower the salaries which are already quite low, said the CATUS President Ljubisav Orbovic.

At the press conference he stressed that statistical data about the education level presented by Serbian employers served to undermine the value of work in Serbia while many of them actually register their employees based on a primary school education in order to pay smaller contributions, which produces unrealistic image of education in Serbia. 

Commenting on the recommendation of the Foreign Investors Council about a fixed time labour contract being prolonged from one year to three years, Orbovic said that it was unacceptable because it would be impossible for young people who start working to plan their future, found a family and take loans…..  

“Also, recommendation about the severance pay being paid only for the period of time spent at the last job is not acceptable because it could be abused. Namely, employers could transfer redundant workers to a new employer who would dismiss them after three months without paying them severance pay’’, he pointed out.

In the continuation CATUS also criticized the proposal that labour force should be hired over agencies, meaning that workers would be treated like goods.

President Orbovic stated that according to most recent data from April there were around 1, 750.000 employees in Serbia, which is 237 000 less than in 2007.  Since 2000 till today the number of employees in Serbia has been reduced by 520 000, he stressed.

December, 2011


In the interview for the newspapers Danas president of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (CATUS) Ljubisav Orbović said that Foreign Investors Council resorted to blackmail and wanted to establish a slave-employer working relationship in those enterprises which were left after the surge of ‘violent privatization and violent capitalism’. He also added that the CATUS didn’t talk to the Foreign investors Council nor had it ever been invited to annual presentations of its famous ‘white books’.

‘They are not in favour of defining rules of procedure, but they would like if there were no rules or if they could prescribe their own rules. When two employees are proportional to the one unemployed at the market, laws of supply and demand give the employers a chance to blackmail’.

He reminds us that before the crisis in 2007 foreign investors asked for the reduction in salaries and the salaries dropped. At that time the average salary was around 450 euros, and now it has been decreased to 320 euros because we wanted to keep jobs. And in the same period we lost 200,000 jobs! The prediction that the reduction in salaries would lead to more jobs proved to be false, Orbovic said and added that this or another Government must know the trade union would use all its force to fight against the change of collective agreements suggested by the foreign investors.

«General collective agreement rarely exists in European countries. It exists in Slovenia, only for the employees who are not covered by branch collective agreements. But branch collective agreements exist everywhere in Europe and I can’t see why foreign investors would ask for different rules of play, especially having in mind that in Serbia they have the cheapest labour force. It was said that investors would come to Serbia because of a cheap labour force, but I can’t see any investments in many Southern cities where the average salary goes below RSD 20, 000. ‘Only those who want to make profit fast have such realtionship with the employees’, Orbovic comments on the remark of the Foreign Investors Council that from 2007 up to now they received 40 recommendations for the change of labour regulation, and only two of them were partially – just partially accepted.

December, 2011


Trade Unions of Employees in Public Utilities of Serbia organized a warning protest against the Government’s indifferent approach towards public utilities and interests of Serbian citizens, but also because of the avoidance of social dialogue.  

The estimate of public experts points to the fact that the fight for drinking water will mark 21st century. Authorities in Serbia made a promise to the domestic and private foreign capital that they would provide them with the enormous profit based on exploitation of water. Privatization of public utilities will ensue through the so-called models of ‘’private-public’’ partnership. Consequences for the citizens will be extremely negative. Private capitalists are only interested in profit and they will have the tendency to immediately increase the prices of public utilities. By selling water and other strategically important resources Serbian Government is fulfilling the demands given by international financial moguls (IMF and World Bank). 

Trade Unions turned to the public and citizens and informed them they asked for the Draft of Public Utility Law and Law on Public and Private Partnership and Concession to be withdrawn from the parliamentarian procedure. The position of the Trade Union, public experts and representatives of public utilities is not considered at all and that’s why we’re asking for a referendum at which citizens would give their opinion about this vital issue.  Trade Unions don’t want the history to be repeated and the future of citizens to be resolved in a very narrow circle and through cooperation between political oligarchy and huge capital. In order to prevent the privatization of essential resources in the country they are even ready to strike in which occasion they expect enormous citizens’ support.

November, 2011



Due to a difficult position of road maintenance workers in Serbia their union turned to the BWI. Soon that federation contacted EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule who in his letter to the Serbian government required that European standards and rules of procedure are applied as soon as possible.

Several thousands of ‘’Nibens group’’ workers protested in front of the building of the Government and hardly any representative of the authorities wanted to talk to them. It is possible that Fule’s message will change this kind of practice.  In any case, the Trade Union of Maintenance Workers isn’t giving up the fight for its rights.

In the letter Fule says that ‘’according to the Articles 152 and 154 of the Agreement, European Commission is responsible for facilitating dialogue between social partners on the EU level’’ and adds that ‘’on its path towards the EU membership Serbia will have to adopt certain laws enabling it to improve the protection of employees in accordance with the EU standards’’.

Conflict concerning the Nibens group confirms the importance and usefulness of the EU social legislation in the protection of the employees in Serbia. So, it might be good if the Commission sent an additional message to the Serbian authorities asking them to harmonize their laws in that field with the EU laws. However, the fact that even the existing regulations in Serbia aren’t applied could represent an additional problem.    

In the letter Fule also says that ‘’ the European Commission intends to go on with its pre-accession assistance helping social partners improve their capacities’’

«Nibens group » workers stopped protesting in front of the Government’s building on October 24. But they keep on fighting for their rights. They think that the solution to their problem must be found while it is obvious that it is beyond the competence of the Ministry of infrastructure and energy.

November, 2011



They meet, get to know each other and most often separate in three months. As far as the law is concerned the employer needs that much time to determine whether he has chosen the right person. If he still has doubts, employer has another 9 months for assessment. One year is the longest possible period of a fixed term contract that an employee could be hired for. Statistics say that every eighth employee in Serbia works like this and the estimates say that there are about 600, 000 employees on a fixed term contract. The reason for this is not the quality of work but avoidance of greater expenses when the termination of a contract is sure to happen.

During three months of probation work the employee receives his salary. Time of employment is registred. Also, the employee has health insurance. The termination of contract doesn’t cost a penny. When the labour contract is prolonged to a year at the most the employee gets the right to a vacation bonus. This is a sufficient motive for the employer to change the labour force every three months if the nature of work allows it.  

Survey about the labour force conducted by the National Statistical Office is showing that 9.7% of employees in Serbia work on a fixed term contract. Then, 1.4% are hired for seasonal work and 1.3% occasionally find work to do. According to statistics, fixed term contracts are less common in Belgrade – 7.2%. In Vojvodina 13.5% of people work under such conditions. Regarding the age, fixed term contracts are mostly present among population aged between 15 and 24.

More flexible labour market is one of the requirements made by the IMF, but also by domestic and foreign investors. The Government is also thinking about changing the Labour Law in this segment. However, the next issue which will soon be discussed is the prolongation of a fixed term contract up to three years. While the employers believe this would increase the employment the employees fear that it could increase their insecurity and uncertainty at work. They know this from their own experience and statistics prove it, too.

November, 2011

Talks between CATUS and United Regions of Serbia


Serbia needs genuine social dialogue and application of collective agreements in enterprises as well as the policy implying real partnership between the trade union, employers and Government.

This was a common estimate made at the meeting of the CATUS representatives and United Regions of Serbia (URS), representing the continuation of talks between the largest trade union confederation and Parliamentarian parties.

CATUS President Ljubisav Orbović said they talked about the future and the vision of URS. However, having in mind that the URS leader Mladjan Dinkić was the Minister in a couple of previous Government convocations they also talked about what happened in the past.

Interlocutors agreed that the next Government must truely support social dialogue, then it was extremely important to apply collective agreements now existing only on paper in all companies and enterprises. Without good partnership and talks between the trade union and employers there is no policy which is suitable for man, applicable and successful in practice.

November, 2011


The world of work is humiliated and impoverished. Long-lasting economic stagnation and economic crisis, brutal privatization and helplessness of the authorities to rescue the country from the crisis put Serbian workers in the most difficult position ever. In such conditions neither social dialogue nor protests have produced expected results, as it has been concluded at the CATUS Council session.

Being dissatisfied with its influence and the position of the world of work, not having the possibility to use institutions of the system in a regular dialogue in order to improve its position, protect its interests and fulfill its demands, the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (CATUS) announced changes in its action strategy.

Simultaneously with achieving program aims, completing tasks and continuing internal reforms the Council made a decision to strengthen its position in the society. That way the employees’ and trade union members’ demands could be met more efficiently, fall of living standard stopped, tendency to reduce basic rights alleviated and increase of unemployed people minimized.   

Basic demands of the CATUS remain faster economic growth, creation of new jobs, increase of salaries and their regular payment, conclusion of branch collective agreements, as well as abiding by them, regular payment of contributions for mandatory social insurance, then re-examination of all debatable privatizations and criminal liability for all forms of corruption, crime and abuse.

November, 2011


This year in Serbia only in 9 months 10, 800 enterprises stopped working, which is two times more than in the same period last year. They couldn’t stand the competition and enormous taxes required by the state. On the other hand, according to the data given by the Serbian Business Registers Agency 6, 400 enterprises were opened, which is 15% less than in 2010.

So, every enterprise whose index was deleted from the Business Register leaves many employees and their families without any income and the list of unemployed people becomes increasingly longer on a daily basis. There are numerous reasons for such a gloomy picture – huge taxes and contributions and even 44 fees which must be paid, abolishment of liquidity credits, state and public enterprise debts to the economy, increase of informal sector and decrease of purchasing power by 18%.

Since there are 1, 2 million employees in the Serbian economy, 1, 6 million pensioners and only 290, 000 workers in the production which supports all this, we need a serious turning point that could transfer one part of employees into the production.

According to the analysts, the state must invest more in the economy. It is necessary to open development banks, turn to internal capacity, improve agriculture, electronic, metal and car industry, tourism and catering. Only such an engagement, stimulating measures and support could prevent further ruin of enterprises and exit a vicious circle of infinitely bad happenings in favour of economy and workers.

November, 2011



Due to the newest rise in prices of basic food products and energy substances which further jeopardized the already difficult employees and citizens position, Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia most severely protested against the Government.

Rise in prices, especially in basic food products which are by 30% more expensive than last year, the army of unemployed, hundreds of thousands of employees who don’t receive their salaries or receive less than a minimum salary and some other alarming indicators finally result in a lower living standard and impoverishment of the majority.

The CATUS pointed out to the Government’s irresponsible way of acting, reminding it of the Social-Economic Agreement 2011 which was signed with social partners and obliged the Government to supply the market with stable prices. If the Government doesn’t start fulfilling its obligations, and because of the fact that signed Social-Economic Agreement isn’t respected in other provisions as well, Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia is ready to withdraw from the agreement.

October, 2011


Although the road maintenance workers of Serbia protested again in front of the building of the Government, no solution was reached. Five thousand employees of Nibens group (which is an agglomeration of various road maintenance companies) have been in agony for quite some time because they haven’t received salaries for months and their debts have amounted to 180 million euros, out of which 130 million should go to banks.

On this occasion the CATUS President Orbovic pointed out that a solution to this essential problem must be found. Since the road maintenance workers in five companies i.e.’’Beograd’’, ‘’Kragujevac’’, ‘’Vranje’’, ‘’Backaput’’ and PNZ ‘’Nis’’ maintain 40% of roads in Serbia and participate in the construction of the “Corridor X” linking Serbia to Greece, it is the Government’s responsibility to solve their problems and pay salaries lagging behind.

October, 2011

Talks between CATUS and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)


Meeting with the representatives of the LDP in the premises of the CATUS on October 18 was the second in the series of meetings with political parties that the Confederation has organized in the effort to determine the future form of its political engagement. Meeting was attended by the members of the CATUS Presidency, presidents of branch trade unions and president of LDP Cedomir Jovanovic.

The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia and Liberal Democratic Party agreed that the priority goal of Serbia is the establishment of order in the state and its institutions, rule of law and a clear development strategy of Serbia.

Despite the differences of opinion about other issues both sides have concluded that the rule of law would provide the trade union membership with more respect of law and collective agreements, as well as guarantee regular payment of salaries and contributions.

Along with the nеcessity of overall reforms, it has been pointed out that it is necessary to prevent dismissals, initiate production and create new jobs, all of which could be done through talks between representative trade unions, employers and the state.

CATUS President Orbovic told the journalists that the possible cooperation in the pre-election campaign was not the topic of discussion, rather it is about the Confederation’s attempt to define its vision of Serbian future.  „ It was just a get-to-know meeting. We wanted to listen to each other and see what is acceptable for Serbian citizens from everything mentioned, said Orbovic.

LDP President Jovanovic suggested partnership to the Confederation. “We are not promising new jobs, we are not promising investments worth billions. At this moment we are trying to agree on the policy which would prevent further rise of unemployment", he said, and added that both employees and employers are the victims of irresponsible and costly state.

He also added he expected from our trade union « a kind of support without which Serbian society couldn’t be changed » insisting that it shouldn’t be the support of LDP, but of the idea of country’s modernization.

At the end of the press conference the CATUS President repeated that the trade union political engagement and its possible forms would be discussed at CATUS Council session on October 28.

October, 2011


Presidency of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia has harshly criticized violence against Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija used by the units of international peace-keeping forces (KFOR).

Presidency has expressed its anxiety and concern about the escalation of conflict and the fact that Serbs in the north of Kosovo are forced to spend their days and nights at the barricades on the administrative crossings and all major roads leading to central Serbia.

We should all strive to protect the interests of Serbia and all its citizens, especially Serbs in Kosovo and Metohija whose lives are at risk.

We demand the protection of Serbian people on the whole territory of the country, as well as the continuation of search for the final solution and prevention of further destabilization in this province.

We appeal to the citizens of Kosovo and Metohija to stay calm and united and try to achieve their goal through dialogue.

October, 2011

Purchasing power of Serbian citizens constantly decreasing


The fact that the purchasing power of Serbian citizens is among the weakest in the region is best shown by the relation of avarage salaries and prices of basic products representative of the ex-Yu countries. For example, Slovenians can buy three times more milk than we, Croats can purchase almost two times more sugar or flour while Montenigrins can buy around 30 kilos of chicken more than Serbs.

Since the average salary is about 376 euros Serbia is the last in the region. Only Macedonia is behind us, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina are better than Serbia while Slovenia and Croatia excel all.  

Serbia is still the leader but in what concerns prices of basic food products, especially milk and sugar. Namely, sugar in today’s supermarkets costs about 111-113 dinars (1.1-1.3 euros) per kilo, which is around 10 dinars (10 cents) more than in Podgorica or Skopje.  In the capitals of the region long life milk is sold for 70 – 80 dinars (70-80 euro cents) by litre, while in our supermarkets customers should spend for it 80 to 90 dinars (80-90 euro cents).

Food in Serbia is expensive because of a bad privatization in the food sector and policies of trade/processing industry lobbies determining prices.

Producers are not to be blamed for the highest price of milk in the region, but the dairies and salesmen who get extra profit by selling these products. Otherwise, it would be impossible to explain why a country with an annual growth of crops has the highest food prices in the region. Simply, Serbia doesn’t  have a real free market and so is blackmailed by those imposing high prices and trade margins.

October, 2011


Due to its inertia and inefficiency Serbian Government bears huge responsibility for a bad economic situation in the country, as estimated by a well-known Serbian economic expert Bajec at the 11th Economic Summit.  

He pointed out that a sluggish growth of Serbian economy is not only the result of crisis, but the Government’s reluctance to take proper measures seen as politically unpopular. It is mostly afraid of measures which could lead to job losses.

Unemployment is already a big problem. If an increase in wages and employment rate is to be obtained, Serbia needs an annual GDP growth of 4%-5%. Growth of only 2%-3% (as foreseen in this and next year) would not be sufficient.

Serbian Government puts an effort to continue the EU accession process, however, avoding to find solution to any vital problem it loses its time. All its measures are short-term and no attention is paid to strategic development issues.

Problems such as pension system, public sector management, informal economy and non-existance of competition persist and the acting or succeeding Government will have to deal with them. The same goes for costly health and education systems accused of not yielding expected results.

October, 2011


The fifth CATUS workers’ sports competition, bringing together more than 700 participants from whole Serbia, took place in Sokobanja.

 At the opening ceremony the CATUS President Orbovic accused the neoliberal capitalism of being guilty for most hardships workers in Serbia are confronted with.

He also announced that by the beginning of the next week –accompanied by the Vice-President Zarubica – he would pay a visit to Serbian workers and citizens in Kosovo and Metohija intending to support them and show that all Serbian workers are with them.

CATUS members are generally upset because of the escalation of conflict between Serbian population and KFOR and the fact that in the North of Kosovo Serbs have to spend night by night on barricades closing roads to central Serbia and adminstrative crossings.

October, 2011


By organizing various manifestations across Serbia the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia again marked October 7, International workers’ day.

Street actions followed by the distribution of promotional material were organized in Subotica, Pancevo, Novi Sad, Stara Pazova and Sokobanja. There were also a press conference and a special TV show about the workers’ problems. 

This way the biggest Serbian Trade Union Confederation has joined numerous trade union organizations all over the world in the effort to press for the creation of jobs, higher wages and decent work.

A few days ago our confederation appealed to the Serbian Government to define urgently the objectives of further development, ways of their implementation and determine the recovery strategy enabling workers to work and earn decent wages.

 On the occasion of WDDW the CATUS President Orbovic and the Minister of Labour and Social Policy Ljajić made a common statement demanding more jobs, better workers’ rights and improved social dialogue.

October, 2011

How to overcome the crisis


The CATUS and Serbian Progressive Party agreed that all social partners should participate in the dialogue if the social and material status of the employees is to be improved and country’s economic revival initiated.

It was pointed out that the living conditions of Serbian workers and citizens are extremely difficult, wages are low, prices of basic food products are increasing, army of the unemployed growing, number of jobs diminishing while new ones are not being created. Besides, every new law diminishes the existing employees’ rights.

It was underlined that CATUS as a critic of faults in Government’s and employers’ policies is a necessary partner in overcoming economic problems and enforcing workers’ rights.

CATUS and SPP are both interested in defending interests of Serbian State and all its citizens, particularly those living in Kosovo and Metohija whose very existence has been imperiled.

They also expressed their anxiety because of the violence used against Serbian inhabitants of Kosovo and Metohija by the KFOR.

They demand the protection of Serbs all over the country as well as the continuation of the process putting the end to further destabilization and leading to final solution of the problem.

September, 2011


One of the conclusions of discussion on economic crisis and its effects on the employees held at the CATUS Executive Board was to start broad consultations with representatives of Serbian parliamentary parties. The intention is to learn more about measures they propose for country’s rescue.

The first meeting was held with the President and Secretary General of the Serbian Progressive Party Mr. Nikolic and Mr. Vucic, in the CATUS building at Nikola Pasic Square in Belgrade on September 28.

September, 2011


At the end of September the Ministry of Finance will pass the by-law which would finally make impossible for the State to be indefinitely indebted to private companies.

The maximum time limit on state payments will be 60 days. It is supposed that these new regulations, by increasing the possibility of getting one’s money back, will also increase the investors’ confidence in Serbian economy. Putting into effect another mechanism – one ensuring payment of wages, taxes and social fund contributions - is also expected.

September, 2011

Session of the Serbian Economic and Social Council:


The 45th regular session of the Council will take place today in the building of the Serbian Government.

   The session will be followed by the press-conference which will be attended by Minister of Labour Ljajic, President of the Employers’ Union Atanackovic and Presidents of two trade union confederations (CATUS and “Nezavisnost”) Orbovic and Canak.

The main items on the agenda will be the analysis of the enforcement of Social and Economic Agreeement and the discussion on the amendments to the Law on Strike which already caused huge dissatisfaction among unionists.

September, 2011


According to the CATUS president Orbovic - if the new, adequate measures are not taken on time, the “second wave” of the economic crisis which has been raging in the whole world since 2008 could sweep away exactly that number of jobs.  

Speaking at the round table organized by the CATUS he warned that after an extremely difficult period during which 200, 000 jobs were lost, one might expect additional 100 to 150, 000 dismissals. He also mentioned that till the end of the year 12, 000 companies might go bankrupt because of the growing illiquidity.

September, 2011


Serbian Minister of labour announced that if the proposed changes in the Labour Law were adopted the workers made redundant because of structural and technological changes would not be able to get their severance payments calculated on the basis of all years of service.

According to the Ministry’s proposal sent to the members of the Economic and Social Council the worker leaving the company will be able to count only on severance payment for the period he spent at his last job.

September, 2011


At least 200,000 Serbian citizens live thanks to the social assistance while till the end of this year another 100,000 are expected to ask for it. It explains the request of the respective Ministry for additional 1, 5 billion dinars (15 million euros) - otherwise it will be impossible to deal with new cases.

Minister’s assistant affirmed that “only since April this year when the Law on Social Assistance was enforced there have been about 15,000 new users of the social security funds. Next month we expect another wave of claims, being sure that our prediction on having the number of users doubled till the end of the year will prove to be true”

These facts explain why the Ministry needs additional money from the budget whose rebalancing is expected soon.

September, 2011

CATUS Round table on


Considering that the Serbian government hasn’t still announced new measures aimed at mitigating the upcoming economic crisis, the CATUS has decided to organize round tables and talks with political parties asking them to present their visions related to overcoming the crisis. 

In order to get a more complex perception of the problem and define its positions, proposals and requests on September 14, 2011 the CATUS organized a discussion on the subject: ‘Impact of a possible new economic crisis hit on Serbian economy’.

The introductory note containing the ideas about the effects of economic crisis and possible measures for its overcoming was given by famous Belgrade professors Unkovic and Hadzic.

September, 2011


Fixed time contract is signed by every other employee in Serbia, which completely derogates standard labour contracts. The famous flexicurity combining easy dismissals with easy employment turned only into easy dismissals. Fixed time contracts are typical of small and medium enterprises (which make up 90% of the economy) where even 48% of employees don’t have a full-time contract. The situation would get more complicated if the suggestion to conclude three-year contracts was adopted, which would increase insecurity on the labour market and further deregulation. 

Since the Labour Law envisages the validity of fixed time contracts, without stating how many times they could be renewed, complaints submitted to the Labour Inspection most frequently refer to perennial renewals of fixed time contracts along with month-long pauses. Even though there are many employees who can’t change their status for years, the Labour Inspection can only forward their complaints to the court which is left to determine if violation of rights took place. Also, if young women want to continue working, taking a maternity leave seems to them like a pie in the sky. As labour disputes on average go on for two years or longer, the question is whether the employees with a fixed time contract would see that justice has been served in due time.

September, 2011


The number of unemployed in Serbia is still on the rise. In 2010 due to restructuring, rationalization or preparations for privatization 15,690 employees were made redundant and only lucky ones got a severance pay. 

Also 11,753 people who are more than 60 years old were left jobless because of privatization and joined the army of 100, 000 unemployed of their age already on the list  at the Employment Agency . These employees make up 81% of long term unemployed individuals. According to the analyses of the National Statistics Bureau many of these people would consider themselves lucky to find an employment in seven years time, but one must bear in mind that at that time they would be seven years older and their chances a lot slimmer. The situation becomes more complex if this is complemented by the information that 1,245.196 people in Serbia are between 55 and 64 years of age, that they have a rather mediocre education level and that there are more than 800,000 people in full working capacity who have a reasonably good education but are still waiting for an employment.

September, 2011


In its public announcement the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia pointed out to the alarming material and social status of employees and citizens. It also invited the Government to urgently examine all the price increases in this year. The wave of increasing basic product prices continues because prices in July went up by 12, 1% compared to July 2010, and what is especially worrying is the announced rise in energy substance prices which is under the state authority.  

The citizens of Serbia live increasingly worse. There are more unemployed people and those who receive minimum wages or don’t receive them at all. The average salary, excluding taxes and contributions, amounts to 39,127RSD and that is 16,000RSD less than what is required for an average consumer basket, so that 1, 4% of an average salary is necessary in order to meet average needs. The increase in prices mostly affects over 700,000 poor people, over 800,000 unemployed people and around 100,000 of those who don’t receive their salaries regularly.

As the Government doesn’t announce any measures aimed at stopping a new wave of crisis, while the prices keep increasing and additionally burden the standard of impoverished citizens, the CATUS warns that the continuation of such economic policy threatens to transmit the wave of dissatisfaction into streets and provoke an overall social riot.

September, 2011


Branch collective agreement for the employees in primary/secondary schools and student halls of residence, regulating some of still unsolved issues in the area of education, was signed in the Serbian Government.

The agreement was signed by the Minister of Education and Science Žarko Obradović, President of the Teachers Union of Serbia (who is a CATUS member) Branislav Pavlović and the presidents of other three trade unions in the same branch.

After signing the agreement Obradović mentioned the unsolved issues, among which he especially stressed the lists of redundancies, severance pay and over time work.

President of the Teachers Union of Serbia Branislav Pavlović said that trade unions were satisfied with signing this agreement and announced more intensive cooperation from the beginning of September. He emphasizes: ‘’It’s good that all trade unions agreed on the text of agreement in which we precisely stated certain issues, however our social dialogue doesn’t end here.

July, 2011


Since the begining of privatization till today the overall of 2,385 enterprises has been sold while the percentage of successful sales at tenders has been only 41%, and at the auctions 63%. Having in mind that 630 sales agreements have been annulled up to now because conditions haven’t been met, it’s no wonder that in fact there haven’t been any tenders in 2011. Actually, this year only four companies and five packages of shares have been sold.

Besides unsuccessful privatizations Serbian economy should also be worried about the information that a quarter of active companies doesn’t have a single employee and a fifth of them has only one, as it was shown by the analysis of the Agency for Business Registers. This kind of information which reappears every year is particularly disturbing due to the fact that the largest number of companies without employees belongs to the sectors of commerce, processing industry, science and innovation, in other words the sectors in which more than two thirds of companies work.

July, 2011


Again, Serbia has got a shock called a sharp increase in prices. Upon entering a store only a quarter of citizens spend more than 200 RSD and just in a six-month time the price of bread went up from 28.5 RSD to 54RSD. Similar thing happened with the price of oil which increased from 73 RSD to 140 RSD while other products which aren’t regarded as basic aren’t taken into account.

The fall of purchasing power differs from one region to another. It is the lowest in Novi Sad and Belgrade (17%) while in other parts of Serbia it is between 24% to 30%. Gloomy picture of the family budget is complemented with the fact that only two years ago a standard consumer basket needed 1.2% of an average salary and a minimum one needed 0.62%. This year a standard consumer basket needs a salary and a half and a mimimum one needs 0.84%. Besides, most frequently only one family member has a job. So the image of the impoverished citizens is pretty disturbing.

July, 2011


Since yesterday all five factories belonging to the ’Trayal corporation’ have been on strike. Raw materials have been used up. There is no export-import activity and the overall debt amounts to 50 milion euros. Members of the Board of Directors have resigned, while 2,200 employees are on strike asking the state for help because it is impossible to work when the account is blocked. The employees announced the blockade at the bridge on the river Rasina. In case the state turns a deaf ear to their request they also announce a blockade on the high-way Belgrade-Nis.

Furthermore, the employees within ’Nibes group’, which encompasses five companies in the road maintenance, have announced the blockade of works at the northern end of Corridor 10 passing through Serbia and linking Central Europe to Greece and Turkey. Around 5,200 employees can’t stay on the street because of illegal privatization so the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia demands that accounts be unblocked, salaries paid and road maintenace workers enabled to work.

June, 2011


By the end of April the unemployment rate increased to 22%, being thus 2% higher than at the end of October 2010 – as it was announced by the Statistics Bureau.  Even though the PM Cvetkovic, on the hundredth day of his reshuffled government, pointed out to positive results and growth and stated that the prevention of unemployment increase was its main success, it is obvious that the numerous unemployed aren’t familiar with this “achievement” - nor is his statement confirmed by the merciless statistics.

June, 2011


Minister of Labour and Social Policy Rasim Ljajić expressed his satisfaction at the implementation of the social economic pact which was concluded at the end of April after difficult negotiations of social partners. However, the trade unions are dissatisfied.

President of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia Ljubisav Orbović pointed out that there was no decrease in prices even though the value of dinar increased compared to euro. Foreign firms still get the jobs at public procurement and tenders regardless of the fact that domestic enterprises whose workers have been waiting eagerly for new jobs are a better option in certain job offers. For example, a foreign firm won the tender ’’Serbian Railway’’ involving the repair of 10 locomotives.

Anyhow, social economic pact envisages the minimum labour cost of 105 dinars starting from June 1, as well as the improvement of citizens’ living standard by appropriating 500 mil euros from the budget till the end of this year.

May, 2011

Government is announcing employment incentive measures


Serbian Government has made a decision on tax relief which is supposed to stimulate employment primarily of those who work in the ’informal sector’. This is just a part of the packet of economic measures, facilitating business conditions for the employers, which will be enforced in one or two months.

In the last two years Serbia lost the greatest number of employees in the region (226,000), therefore the experts think that each employment incentive measure is welcome - under the condition it doesn’t harm market principles.

It has been envisaged that in the first year the employers should pay 50% to 60% less in taxes and contributions for the newly employed people, 40% reduction is foreseen in the second and a 20% in the third year.

It is considered that the measure would contribute to the people working in the informal sector to be finally represented as regularly employed.

According to the Government, to prevent misuses the increase in the number of newly employed will be controlled by the Tax Administration and the National Employment Agency. Economists, however, warn that it will be tough because in Serbia around 20,000 people are dismissed and the same number employed every month.

Concerning the employees’ salaries, the Government says that the decrease in taxes could be expected in the years to come.

May, 2011


In Serbia prices are still restless. Last month the inflation was slowed down a bit and measured by the consumer price index it reached 1.1% when compared to March. However, since the beginning of this year it has become higher by 6.7%, which is already above the predicted 2011 limit.

Some more expensive services not the food prices, as it was previously expected, are to be blamed for the high price list in April. In April the highest increase in prices was marked in the area of living – 5.7%, transport – 1.5%, health – 1.2%, clothing – 0.6%... 

Citizens’ wallets are getting thinner due to more expensive kilowatt-hours - on April 1 the cost of power increased by 13.5%. Some Serbian municipalities received much higher bills for using public utilities (water, garbage collection …etc), which even further burdened household budgets.

 Statisticians claim that prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages haven’t changed, but this view isn’t shared by the majority of Serbian citizens. Their subjective feeling is telling them that every day they spend more and more money on basic necessities. Indeed, in April the prices of coffee, tea, sugar, fish and eggs rose by 1% - 1.7%.

However, the first price shock happened in March when the prices rose by 5% - 15%, and in some cases this percentage was much higher.

 Having salaries that are practically on the European bottom employees’ life is not even close to being easy. And what’s worse is that such economic policy does not promise the future which would be any different from gloomy every day life.

May, 2011


The consequences of the economic crisis are much more difficult for Serbian than for other employees in the region. Since 2008 226,000 jobs have been lost in our country, representing a downfall of 11.2 %. However, according to the IMF the real number could be even 440,000 jobs. The difference is due to many people working in the informal sector whose dismissals were not registered. For the sake of comparison, the number of employees in Slovenia was reduced by 7.3%, in Montenegro by 5.4% and in Bosnia and Herzegovina by 1.4%.

Serbia is also on the notorious ‘leading’ position when it comes to the decrease of 19.5% in salaries, while in Croatia it was only 4%. The average salary in Slovenia has been increased by 7.2% and reaches 970 euros, in Montenegro by 17.9% and in Bosnia and Herzegovina by 3.3%. Concerning such level of salaries and a drastically reduced number of employees it is highly unlikely that workers in Serbia will feel any better in the foreseeable future.

May, 2011


The Government of the Republic of Serbia, the Serbian Association of Employers, the

Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia and theNezavisnostTrade Union

Confederation (hereinafter: Participants in the Agreement), proceeding from a position that social dialogue represents the foundation of achieving common goals of development and successful resolution of common problems, and that it is not possible without both working and assuming responsibility together to mitigate the negative consequences of the economic crisis or secure the economic and social progress of Serbia in 2011, have on this date 29th April 2011 concluded the following



for the year 2011


May, 2011


Long-lasting crisis in Serbia is continuing with the same intensity, but with more serious social consequences and more rapid impoverishment of its citizens.

Disappointed in laws which are constantly being violated and in institutions which are often dysfunctional, deceived by the story of a nice life within the EU candidacy and dissatisfied with irresponsible behaviour of the majority of employers – our employees are more often and in a greater number than before ready to express their discontent.

Therefore, the trade unions are now needed more than ever.

I appeal to your solidarity, unity and decisiveness when dealing with the    Government and capital and ask you to use all available means in the continuation of our struggle for social justice, true values and decent salaries enabling us to live and not just survive - struggle for more jobs, better future and higher living standard of membership and all employees.

Encouraged by the strengthening of the trade union position which induced the Government and employers to look for the negotiated solutions, we shall decisively and consistently demand the strengthening of the social dialogue as the best way of solving problems. But we shall also demand the agreed to be respected and the signed to be realized.

On behalf of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia, I congratulate the May Day to all our members and all citizens of Serbia.

Ljubisav Orbovic


April, 2011

CATUS Council Ceremonial Session

Marking of April 27 the CATUS day

On the occasion of celebrating its 108-year long existence and more than a century long trade union activities in Serbia, a ceremonial session of the CATUS Council was held in the trade union premises on April 27.

On that day, 108 years ago, it was officially decided to unite the existing trade union federations into the Serbian Workers’ Union, predecessor of today’s CATUS.

The decision to establish the April 27 as the CATUS day was made at its 14th Congress, last May.

At the ceremonial session the election of the new Council members was verified and the May Day Proclamation sent to membership and public.

Talking about the beginnings of trade union history in the region, the CATUS President Orbović pointed out that although the times had changed since then, the basic objectives of trade union struggle - i.e. the protection of labour, economic, social and professional interests of the members and the realization and promotion of their rights - stayed the same.

Emphasizing the fact that trade unionism in Serbia had existed for more than hundred years, Orbović added that ’’the one who doesn’t have the past neither has the future’’ and stated that the results of the CATUS activties showed  our organization was strong and recognizable and would stay as such in the future.

The session was continued by the Secretary of the CATUS Council Savić throwing more light on the Confederation’s history. There was also a short video about our activities in the previous period.

April, 2011



The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia considers the statement of Serbian Prime Minister Cvetkovic, relating to the fact that strong trade unions are to be blamed for high unemployment, a shaky alibi for his and the Government’s incompetence.

In the CATUS announcement the PM was asked to explain to trade unions and citizens what unrealistic employees’ benefits demanded by the unions were jeopardizing the country’s rating with potential investors.

Powerful trade unions exist all over the world as equal partners who solve employees’ problems through social dialogue. Serbian Government, however, often hasn’t respected the conclusions of that dialogue. ‘You have not proven to be consistent, decisive, brave, competent, to have any vision whatsoever, not even an idea about Serbia’s path to a better, European future’, says the statement of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia sent to Serbian PM Cvetkovic.

On April 18 in Washington the PM estimated that the two reasons for high unemployment in the period before the crisis were the privatization and powerful trade unions whose long-term policy was set against the increase in employment as they insisted on short-term employees’ benefits that were, however, discouraging the investors.

April, 2011


Yesterday, the president of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia Orbović, said the trade union Presidency had accepted the text of the National Social Pact agreed between the unions, Government and the employers. He also announced that on the following day (i.e. April 20), at the session of the Social-Economic Council, the text would be on the voting procedure.

After the Presidency session in Niš president Orbović said there were some dilemmas concerning the acceptance of the document. This happened not because the text was bad, but because the other two partners hadn’t respected it in the past. According to what the president said, the union membership has the legitimate right to think about how it could ‘punish’ the partners in case of breaching the terms the agreement.

The draft of the Pact was drawn on April 14, 2011.  The document should be signed after the following session of the Social and Economic Council.

April, 2011

Creation of the “Regional Trade Union Accession Committee” in Belgrade:


The ETUC is trying hard to facilitate the participation of SEE trade unions in the EU accession process. In accordance with that policy and with precious contribution of the Belgrade office of the “Friedrich Ebert Foundation” a two-day meeting was organized in Belgrade on April 14 and 15. Representatives of the most relevant trade unions from ex-Yu Republics striving to join the European Union (Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Macedonia) had the opportunity to discuss various issues of common interest and draw important conclusions for the future. Everyone hopes that the UGT “Nezavisnost” (absent this time) will participate in the meetings-to-follow.

The “Regional Trade Union Accession Committee” will operate on political and technical level. Presidents or general secretaries of the unions-members of the Committee will take part at the former level while the international secretaries will be in charge of the latter.  

By creating the Committee the ETUC and the unions concerned wanted to improve the understanding of the EU among the workers in the ex-Yu Republics and help unions defend their interests better in long and strenuous negotiations with national governments and EU representatives. A creation of a network facilitating further contacts and establishment of closer relations with the EU missions in respective countries was also planned.

In order to realize all this, a number of national and international seminars as well as study-tours abroad will soon be organized. Special role will be played by unions from our area which already have a rich experience in the EU. The elaboration of necessary analyses and studies was planned too.

In order to improve the understanding of the EU, strengthen mutual relations and let the international trade union public know more about our efforts, the decision on the creation of the Committee’s web-site was also made.

April, 2011


Serbia has finally got its National social pact. On April 14, after many weeks of discussion representatives of the Government, trade unions and employers managed to reach an agreement on the most important issues related to the recovery of economy, protection of the most vulnerable groups and exit from the crisis.

The minimum cost of labour will be 102 dinars which is 7 dinars more than the previously established amount.

Most importantly, every application has a precise deadline so it is expected that the agreement will be respected.

March, 2011


On March 28 the first extraordinary session of the Social and Economic Council was held in the Government of Serbia. It was announced at the session that the social agreement guaranteeing social stability which is necessary for Serbia in this time of crisis would be adopted till April 8, at the latest. The agreement will also include the minimum cost of labour. For the time being the representatives of trade unions and employers haven’t agreed on the exact amount. While the trade unionists propose the cost of 105 dinars, the employers’ proposal is 96 dinars.

The President of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia, Ljubisav Orbović stressed that the agreement would be signed only if the trade union membership agreed with this. At the same time what is also important is the proposal for the stimulation of industry production whose development would enable faster recovery of economy and successful functioning of the public sector.

March, 2011

Session of the Representativity Board took place



The work of the Board for establishing social partners’ representativity was blocked as its members disagreed on whether the decisions should be made by consensus or by simple majority vote. Some time ago it was decided the blockade should be lifted by introducing the latter solution.

Yesterday, however, the session of the Board was unexpectedly blocked again.

Even though the adoption of new rules of procedure was planned to take place without any problems, members of the Board disagreed once more, causing the postponement of the agenda till the next week’s session. Namely, the Employers’ Association and the UGT „Nezavisnost“ asked for the modification of the already made decision and insisted that further decisions should be made by two thirds majority - which would mean the de facto return to the consensus and the continuation of the Board’s blockade.

In the follow-up of the session the Board continued solving the  disputable issues which could have been settled by the consensus.

This year, the chairman of the Board is the CATUS Vice-President Zoran Mihajlović.

March, 2011

Minister of Labour Ljajić:


Session of the Social and Economic Council should be held in two weeks at the most and till then the Ministry of Finance should propose the amount of minimum wage – minister of Labour and Social Policy Ljajić announced.

The session will be preceeded by the meeting of this tripartite body with the Prime Minister Cvetković at which the topics of the session are to be defined.

"Our idea is to offer to social partners an agreement which being legally binding till the end of this year and well defining   responsibilities of state and other partners would lead to a more favourable atmosphere in the time of crisis, Ljajić said.

Now the government is looking for a solution somewhere in between the damands of trade unions and employers. While trade unions claim the minimum wage sholud be increased from 95 dinars (90 euro cents) to 105 dinars (1 euro) per working hour, the employers agree to increase it only by 1 dinar (10 euro cents).

 The session of the Social and Economic Council should have been held two weeks ago, but at that time it was announced that the Ministry of Finance was still looking for the minimum wage increase which wouldn’t jeopardize the macro-economic stability of the country.

March, 2011

Extended effect of the branch collective agreement in

Construction and ICM:


Branch collective agreement for the employees in construction and industry of construction materials, whose application starts on March 12, will contribute to the decrease of informal economy and equalize the rights, obligations and responsibilities of both employees and employers - the Minister of Labour and Social Policy Ljajić announced.

"This branch collective agreement establishes the hot meal and vacation bonuses – the first one can’t be lower than 20% and the second one 70% of the minimum wage - but it also regulates the safety and health at work’’, he added.

Ljajić pointed out that the branch collective agreement in construction which was signed last year on December 20 and given the extension of effect a few days ago, ’’is actually a huge step forward when it comes to collective bargaining and social dialogue in Serbia’’.

President of the Trade Union of Employees in Construction and ICM of Serbia, Vuković said that the agreement would be valid for all 116 000 employees in construction and explained the wages were divided in six categories.

According to his words, unqualified workers who belong to the first category will be paid 95 dinars (90 euro cents) per working hour, workers with a two-year long education 114 dinars (110 euro cents), while those with the secondary school diplomas will get 133 dinars (127 euro cents).

Branch collective agreement in construction and industry of construction materials was signed after three months of negotiations between the Trade Union of Employees in Construction and ICM of Serbia, UGT ’Nezavisnost’ and Employers’ Association of Serbia.

The decision on its extension was signed by minister Ljajić on February 28 and it will be generally binding for all employers and workers in the branch in the following year.

March, 2011


The Government of Serbia obviously has a hard time selling Telekom. Even though the procedure of selling 51% of shares started last October and 6 companies got the status of bidders, there are numerous problems.

First of all, it is necessary to obtain the permit from the Anti-Monopoly Commission. Before signing sales agreement, future owner should get the permit from the Commission. Having in mind that the sale of Serbian Telekom includes selling Telekom of the Republic of Serbia and M:tel of Montenegro, there could appear the problem of the ownership concentration and important bidders, such as Telekom Austria and Deutsche Telekom couldn’t receive the permit from the Anti-Monopoly Commission. Telekom Austria is the owner of VIP mobile operator, Deutsche Telekom is the majority owner of Montenigrin Telekom and has a share in the ownership of Croatian Telecommunications-Mostar. Therefore, according to the analysts, they would have to give up their previous ownership in order to avoid double licences.

Second, Serbian Government has chosen the most unfavourable moment for selling – the peak of global economic crisis, so it could sell this strategic company for an amount which is significantly below its true value.

Third, the estimates of those, who are in favour of selling and say that Serbian Telekom can’t stand the competition, are not true. At this moment, the company makes the profit of 1bil euros, and expenditure of 800 mil euros. Obviously, it is a profitable company which creates a profit of 200 mil euros. If this gain is to be taken out of the country, either through profit or foreign cooperators, according to the analysts Serbia would lose 200 000 average salaries.

Voice against the sale was also raised by the Anti Corruption Council saying that there is no just reason for the sale and the sale of infrastructure violates the Constitution and law. The infrastructure represents common good which has been built for more than 100 years and its purpose is general. Infrastructure can’t be sold, but only granted under the concession. Therefore, the Council warns that buying infrastructure means entering a corruptive and illegal process of a potential buyer.

Citizens, workers and trade unions oppose the sale of Telekom, too. It is evident that the sale would be a great damage for Serbia, so it isn’t clear why they insist on selling it for such a small amount of money and imposing a short deadline.

March, 2011


Commenting yesterday’s CATUS appeal on the increasing prices of food and services confederal president Orbovic pointed out that the anger of workers and citizens was intensifying. According to his assessment Serbia can’t follow the Egyptian or Tunisian scenario, but having in mind strikes in our public sector the Greek solution is quite possible.

‘Our Government should create healthy economic and social environment but it sends unclear and chaotic messages about the future. If it doesn’t respond seriously and on time to the demands of workers and citizens it could soon face their reaction”, Orbovic announced to the journal Sindikalni poverenik.   

March, 2011


If Serbian Government wants to prevent economic collapse and general people’s revolt it must urgently re-examine all price increases having occurred this year and stop the announced ones. This is the message the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia sent to country leaders in an appeal addressed to Serbian public yesterday.

The latest increase in prices – which further aggravates the already difficult employees’ position – doesn’t have any economic justification, but it’s primarily a compensation for different business setbacks.

While it persistently declines trade union demands for higher wages – finding excuses in the fear of inflation – the Government allows the increase in prices which directly contributes to the increase of the inflation rate.  

In the open letter sent a month ago to the Prime Minister and Serbian public the CATUS had already warned about negative trends which could be detrimental to employees and citizens in general, but the reaction from the Government was missing.

For that reason the Confederation is sending this last appeal to the authorities asking them to seriously take into consideration the difficult position of our workers and citizens. Their patience has limits and that will be shown at the next elections - if not sooner.

February, 2011


The Confederal Council held consultations with presidents of federations and regional organizations aimed at discussing further trade union actions and increasing their overall effectiveness.

In the conclusions of the meeting it is pointed out that the efficiency of action is related to the establishment of financial discipline, merging of branch trade unions and safeguarding of territorial infrastructure (which, however, needs to be rationally reorganized).

It has been agreed that organizing such consultations should go on till the adoption of the new Statute and formulation of various forms of action enabling greater impact on the authorities and other institutions of the system when they make decisions on issues which are important for material and social position of employees, as well as for enforcement and protection of their rights.

February, 2011


The Minister of Labour and Social Policy Ljajić signed the decision on the extended effect of the branch collective agreement in agriculture, food and tobacco industry and waterworks,  which enables the agreement to cover all 120 000 employees in those branches of economy.

He pointed out that the agreement in those sectors and the construction (where the collective agreement has recently been signed) would be an incentive for signing agreement in other branches. Thereby he was referring primarily to metal industry where positive signals are already present.

Signing of this decision was witnessed by the presidents of the CATUS and UGS “Nezavisnost”, Orbović and Čanak, presidents of two branch trade unions, Zarubica and Vlaisavljević, as well as the branch president in the Employers’ Association of Serbia, Mijanović.

February, 2011


Branch collective agreement in agriculture, food/tobacco industry and waterworks has been signed in the headquaters of the Employers’ Association of Serbia.

The agreement was signed by the branch president of the Employers’ Association of Serbia and by the presidents of trade unions of employees in agriculture, food/tobacco industry and waterworks of Serbia (members of the CATUS and the UGS ’Nezavisnost’) Zarubica and Vlaisavljević. Ceremonial signing was also witnessed by the Minister of Labour and Social Policy Ljajić, presidents of the CATUS and the UGS ’Nezavisnost’ Orbović and Čanak, as well as by the president of the Employers’ Association of Serbia, Atanacković.

Among different benefits the agreement stipulates a fixed minimum wage of 17000 dinars (around 150 euros per month).

There are over 120 000 employees working in agriculture which is one of the most promising branches of Serbian economy, Still, we had to wait for this agreement for more than five years. The Minister of Labour assessed the signing of the agreement as an important contribution to the process of „defrosting“ social dialogue in Serbia.

At the same time he said that the employers and trade unions were very close to the conclusion of the branch collective agreement in the metal industry as well.

February, 2011


On February 20th, 2011 – World Day of Social Justice – The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia announces that the struggle against poverty, the right to work and salary must be mutual priorities of the government, institutions and whole society.

In Serbia there is no social justice nor social dialogue, and the consequences are numerous workers’ strikes and protests.

That is the reason why all state bodies must contribute to the promotion of the struggle against poverty, right to work, gender equality, equal opportunities and social justice for everybody.

February, 2011

Session of the Social-Economic Council


On February 17th, 2011 Social-Economic Council did not manage to come to an agreement concerning minimal wages, break of the teachers’ strike and strike in the health sector.

At the next session, which is supposed to be held next week, the Council will continue discussing these issues and then representatives of the government hope to reach an agreement. 

The session was attended by the presidents of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia and TUC ’Nezavisnost’ - Ljubisav Orbović and Branislav Čanak, Minister of Labour and Social Policy - Rasim Ljajić and Minister of Education - Žarko Obradović and president of the Employers’ Association of Serbia - Nebojša Atanacković.

February, 2011


Between September 2008 (the beginning of the great economic crisis) and September 2010 extra 218 315 people were added to the already existing army of the unemployed. The experts estimate that currently the total number of those who lost their jobs goes up to 250 000.

140 663 dismissals occured in the private sector where the signs of recovery are still missing  and the future of the  remaining 426 909 workers is in jeopardy.

The results of reserch made by the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (CATUS) clearly show that in 2011 salaries of Serbian workers will also decrease. Now the average salary is 310 euros per month, but the unions expect further decrease down to 250 euros.

The worst is that the bad effects of the crisis are just the continuation of the negative trends generally chracterizing Serbian economy for the last twenty years. So the biggest  losses in jobs were registered in the productive sectors (60 066 people) where due to the very low productivity the number of workers keeps on decreasing by 10 % each year. In commerce the losses amounted to 6,2 %, while in the construction they reached 7,2 %.

Besides the declining sales there is another reason for growing unemployment - the enormous indebtedness of Serbian companies. Last year the total amount of money owed to the banks was 19.3 billion euros.

Still, there are some sectors witnessing certain increase in employment. There were 9000 new jobs in real estate business, 3497 in education and 3265 in finacial services.

February, 2011


We expect you to take adequate measures as soon as possible otherwise Serbia will be threatened by the general revolt and collapse, says the CATUS letter sent to the Serbian Prime Minister.  

The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia strongly protests against the increase of food and energy prices. Last year, living expenses went up by 10.4%, and in January of this year by additional 5-20%.  

Judging by an average net salary and citizens’ purchasing power, Serbia is the last country in the region. Besides, the social dialogue is almost non-existent. Every day employees go on strike pushing Serbia deeper into the crisis. The responsibility for this situation is exclusively borne by the government that forgot about its promise to strengthen social responsibility and raise the living standard of  citizens. The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia is asking the government to prevent the announced rise in prices which isn’t economically justified, solve through negotiations the problems with branch trade unions, stop the activities aimed at harming consumers and  create the economic context favorising the increase in salaries.

February, 2011


At the initiative of the European Confederation of Trade Unions, unions of the Western Balkan countries which strive to join the EU held the founding meeting of their new Regional Committee in Belgrade on the 3rd and 4th of February.

Taking into consideration various challenges connected with the integration process and the role of unions as defenders of employees’ rights and interests, workers’ representatives that participated in the meeting confirmed the importance of the active trade union participation in the Labour legislation harmonisation process and the incorporation of the EU directives into national legislation.

They also underlined the role of the Western Balkan unionists as future participants in tripartite social dialogue in the European Social and Economic Committee and other EU institutions.   

It was pointed out that coordination of activities and common actions are a necessary precondition for good positioning of workers’ organisations in the upcoming integration process in our region. They committed themselves to mobilise all expert and technical capacity of the organisations they belong to so that the agreements between them be realised in the fastest and best possible way.

The meeting was attended by the President of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (CATUS) - Ljubisav Orbović, General Secretaries of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Montenegro and Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro - Zoran Masoničić and Srdja Keković, Presidents of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Macedonia and Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Macedonia - Živko Mitrevski and Rasko Miškoski as well as President of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Bosnia and Herzegovina Ismet Bajramović. There were also Peter Seideneck, the ETUC representative, Roland Feicht, director of the Regional Office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation as well as Ildiko Kren and Milan Jevtic, project coordinators.   

It has been agreed that the the role of technical coordinator would be played by the Regional Office of Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

January, 2011

Confederation supports the activities of the Teachers’ Union of Serbia 


Since all regular instruments that make part of a true social dialogue  have been exhausted, the Teachers’ Union of  Serbia (one of the members of our Confederation) went on strike a few days ago. Aware of the importance of struggle fought by this federation, the CATUS filed an urgent appeal to the Serbian government by saying:   

The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia gives full support to the Teachers’ Union in its struggle for better position and higher standard of living of teachers.

During its past activities our organization has demonstrated its understanding of difficulties seriously affecting Serbia and expressed the wish to become a constructive actor in overcoming them. At the same time, we have clearly shown we are not ready to accept the overall burden of the crisis falling on workers’ shoulders.  

That is the reason why we ask the Prime Minister and other ministers to keep on negotiating with unions and looking for the optimal solution in order to enable the employees in the education to go back to work.  

The consequences of hesitation and inability to understand the seriousness of the situation will mostly fall on blameless students, who are not only deprived of lessons but receive the message that in this country there is no future for the young.

The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia will always give support to the Teachers’ Union both in current negotiations and in other actions aimed at obtaining better life for its members.

January, 2011


Since 2001 till today the authorities have been announcing the creation of 200 000 up to 400 000 new jobs. However, the reality didn’t bring any improvement. If we compare data concerning the number of the employed in 2001 (2 101 668) with the number of the employed at the beginning of this year (1.8 million) – it is clear that 300 000 people ‘disappeared’ the new jobs haven’t been created. There was a marked increase of the number of employees in private enterprises as ten years ago there were 349 442 employees in the private sector while now there are 455 366.

Since 2011 is the election year, it can be expected that political parties would again promise hundreds of thousands of new jobs and use this promise in order to attract more voters. After the experiences of last decade it is hard to believe that this time voters would be so easily tricked.         

January, 2011


Governor of the National Bank of Serbia Mr. Dejan Soskic said that a high level of inflation in Serbia would continue in the next few months.

At the Media Conference he was precise by saying that in the first trimester of 2011 we could expect the growth of the inter-annual inflation, its maintenance at a high level in the second trimester and a significant decrease in the second half of the year.

Governor pointed out that the biggest challenge in this year would be shocks caused by increasing prices of food and energy.

Soskic reminded that at the end of 2010 the inflation in Serbia was 10.3%; while the basic inflation was 8.8%, prices of agricultural products grew by 17.4% and state controlled prices by 12%.

January, 2011


In this year the National Employment Agency intends to use 5.55 billion dinars, both from the budget of the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development and from its own financial plan, in order to support active employment measures and give jobs to 50.000  people.

"By implementing active employment policy measures, combining means with local administration and the budget Fund for the disabled we expect that up to 60.000 people will get jobs", it has been said at the Media Conference in the Serbian government where the programs of active employment policy measures for the year 2011 have been presented.

Last year 3.7 billion dinars were set aside for the active employment and thus 35.000 people were employed.

This year 121 municipalities agreed to implement active local employment measures and local administration has allocated around 780 million dinars for that purpose.

Today’s newspapers have already announced public calls for subsidies for self-employment, creation of new jobs, public works and training for employers’ needs.

January, 2011


By the end of 2010 every citizen of Serbia had an approximate debt of 749 euros, which is the minimum in Europe. However, the salaries in Serbia are also at the European bottom.  

By the end of last year the debts in bank loans amounted to 668 euros per capita, 49 euros for credit card debts, 24 euros for current account overdraft and 8 euros for leasing contracts.

According to the Association of Serbian Bankers, by the end of 2009 citizens of Serbia had an approximate debt of 661 euros per capita.

During the last year the debts of Serbian citizens in bank loans grew by 29. 7% and reached the value of 514.9 billion dinars (around 5 billion euros), while the highest growth was achieved by consumer, cash and housing loans.

January, 2011


Lagging behind in the payment of contributions to Pension and Disability Insurance Fund is a great Serbian problem. Trade unions think that a main reason for that is the non-existence of the rule of law in the state which is not able to ensure compliance with legal norms. They also think that such delay is supported by certain groups from the political sphere. The CATUS President Orbovic has recently criticized the government by saying that, not being able to perform some of its basic functions, it practically doesn’t govern.

At this moment it is considered that overall debts to the Fund amount to the sum of 1.5 billion euros.

It is true that Serbian companies have problems with solvency, but that shouldn’t be an obstacle in passing the law on the settlement of such debts. There is a proposal that in the future the deadline for the settlement should be between 45 and 60 days.

The highest levels of debt are held by those companies which don’t produce large profit, such as those in textile industry, crafts  and commerce, as well as by a number of small and medium enterprises in southern Serbia. However, with the arrival of economic crisis, which has substantially affected Serbia, we witness an increasing number of debtors even among the companies not belonging to the mentioned categories.

It has been noted that the companies often pay salaries without the payment of contributions, which is strictly forbidden by law.

So far it has been the state that many times had to pay the contributions instead of employers – mostly owners of ruined and badly privatised companies.

January, 2011


By the end of November 2010 it had been estimated that the overall number of employees in Serbia amounted to 1.801.503, which is by 575 less than last month.

In the publication issued by the Serbian Chamber of Commerce it was stated that by the end of last November the number of employees had been smaller by 56.213 i.e. 3% than in November 2009.

By the end of November 2010 the overall number of the unemployed in Serbia had been 722.142.

Compared to the last month the unemployment rose by 0.6%, while compared to the same month in 2009 it decreased by 0.2%.

The rate of registered unemployment in November 2010 amounted to 26.25%.


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