(23 January 2014) Trade unions across Serbia will be taking part in a one-hour strike today in protest against government proposals for major changes to labour legislation.
The two main confederations along with several independent unions are supporting the action to demonstrate opposition to amendments that will a have serious impact on workers' rights, including changes to severance pay, compensation for sick leave and paid leave.
The Serbian trade unions are also very concerned about changes to the law that hinder the position of trade union representatives and the right to collective bargaining and believes that it is wrong that salaries and working hours will no longer have to be stipulated in employment contracts.
The unions argue that the Serbian government is more interested in changing employment legislation to suit international investors rather than looking to create the right conditions for decent jobs.
There is also evidence that the European Commission supports these kinds of reforms. Serbia is a candidate country to join the EU and in its 2013 Progress Report on Serbia (a Staff Working Document published in October) the Commission claims that: “There are a number of restrictions related to severance payments, duration of fixed-term employment, industry-wide collective agreements, termination of employment, payroll calculation and compensations which are obstacles to job creation and reduce labour flexibility.”
In view of the European Commission’s recent record, particularly as a member of the Troika, in intervening in Member States’ national industrial relations systems and attacking collective bargaining arrangements, it is crucial that as European trade unions we express our solidarity for our Serbian colleagues and our opposition to the kinds of labour market reforms that are all about increasing precarious employment and flexibility only on the employers’ terms.
We hope that the one-hour warning strike on 23rd January, called by the two main trade union confederations and supported by many independent unions, will have the widest support possible and that this and any planned protest actions will lead the government to revise its proposals.
EPSU solidarity letter
Letter by Trade Union of Employees in Health and Social Security of Serbia