We say NO to Amendments to the Serbian Labour Law!

On 23 January 2013, trade unions across Serbia took part in a one-hour strike in protest against government proposals for major changes to labour legislation. The two main confederations along with several independent unions supported the action to demonstrate opposition to amendments that will 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 believe 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, with total disregard for social dialogue and misuse of the media.

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, intervening in Member States’ national industrial relations systems and attacking collective bargaining arrangements, we express our solidarity with our Serbian colleagues and our opposition to the kind of labour market reforms that are all about increasing precarious employment and flexibility only on the employers’ terms.

We are witnessing the consequences of the Troika’s disastrous anti-social policies in Greece, Spain, Portugal and other countries. PSI fully supports the protest action and fights for trade union rights and decent working conditions of its Serbian affiliates!