Saturday, March 2, 2024

SHOULD SEASONAL WORKERS FEAR FOR THEIR RIGHTS?

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Public discussion on Draft Law on Seasonal Work finished without attracting much attention from the media. Trade unions and some experts believe that it deprives workers of their rights, legal protection and allows the employment of foreigners without a contract. The Ministry of Labour and Serbian Employers’ Association (SEA) say this is not true and the new law will enable faster and easier employment, reduction of informal economy and budget increase.
In many professions Serbia lacks seasonal work force. Due to this the legislator has expanded the scope of the law to work in construction, catering industry, tourism, cleaning services in buildings, help around the house, baby-sitting and looking after the elderly. This Law allows workers to do the job 15 days per month without a written contract. However, the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia considers this to be unconstitutional and illegal and warns that in such a way the state will reduce its income.
Some legal experts think that the new law is not necessary because increased demand for seasonal workers can be well regulated by the existing law. They underline that each article in the new law goes against the workers and in favour of the huge capital. “They don’t have the right to limited working hours and overtime work, paid leave and court protection. There are no vacation bonuses and severance pays “, says Mario Reljanović, Ph.D. from the Institute for Comparative Law.
Employers claim that the law refers only to temporary engagement, not employment, as well as it contains numerous advantages. First of all, workers do not lose their right to the existing income financed by the state, such as: unemployment fee, pension, child allowance. It means the payment of these fees will continue regardless of them being hired on these grounds and there is the ban on work for another employer, which the previous law did not contain. SEA points that legal protection is also envisaged before the Agency for Peaceful Setllement of Labour Disputes, which previously was not the case.
Nevertheless, trade unions believe it will be quite difficult for the inspectors to control whether workers really work 15 days or full month because there’s not enough of them – an insector checks several thousand companies. They also remark that the law allows occasional employment of foreigners who do not need a visa to enter Serbia, which creates disloyal competition for domestic workers.
The Ministry replied that foreigners usually worked in the black market witout paying any taxes and contributions and added that the law would regulate foreigners’position, which also meant it would become more expensive.

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