Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two unions pull out of talks on labour law amendments

11/21/2013 4:16:00 PM

BELGRADE - The leaders of the two largest trade unions in Serbia, the Alliance of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (SSSS) and the United Trade Unions Independence said on Thursday they had pulled out of the talks on the labour law amendments.

The leaders of the two unions, Ljubisav Orbovic, and Branislav Canak, told a news conference they had quit the talks because the social dialogue in the country was no longer functioning, since four versions of the law had appeared instead of one and the good will of the unions had been betrayed. The Ministry of Economy is the one demanding the key changes to the labour law, even though it is not in its jurisdiction, and does so without any explanation, while proposing drastic changes to the law that are detrimental to the employees, Canak stated. 

 What is it in the current law that has prevented the economy to perform better so far, what will be the actual results from the current proposals and what mechanisms will the government employ to ensure the new law is implemented if the current one has not been implemented, he asked. Canak also pointed out that the Serbian Association of Employers was behaving badly, as its only goal was to break completely free of the workers' rights. The Labour Ministry did not present a unified draft of the labour law amendments and there were new demands and proposals from the ministries of economy and finance before each meeting of the working group that worked the bill, Orbovic said. "We no longer knew which version of the bill we were negotiating," he stressed. It is now up to the government to be the first to make its move, and if it does not happen, the unions will use all the legal means at their disposal to prevent the adoption of the labour law amendments, which cancel emloyee rights, Orbovic and Canak remarked. 

 The adoption of such a law will affect both the employees and the retired, and even those who are partners to the government concerning the proposed solutions, AmCham and the Foreign Investors Council, they stated. Orbovic and Canak believe these two organizations will not like a law their countries would not adopt being adopted here. "We will make sure the US press informs the US public that what is impossible in the US is possible in Serbia, and at the request of US investors," Canak said. The two union leaders stated they would also use the EU institutions in their fight against the bill that violates employee rights, explaining that the EU does not have such laws. If the Serbian authorities do not listen to the unions, they will soon be asked in Brussels why they are trying to adopt a law they will have to change soon because of EU integration, Canak pointed out. Photo Tanjug, T. Valic

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