Friday, January 27, 2023

THROUGH NEGOTIATIONS AND RESPECT TO HIGHER LIVING STANDARD

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At this week’s meeting organized in the premises of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia between the CATUS Presidency, presidents of branch unions , local unions and Serbian Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić, Finance Minister, Siniša Mali and Labour Minister, Darija Kisić Tepavčević, it was concluded that the state needed to provide for consistent respect of the right to the freedom of association and decent work, as well as to include trade union positions regarding minimum wage growth and pay rise when planning the budget.
CATUS President Ljubisav Orbović pointed out that trade unions took part in the negotiations on the minimum wage, but didn’t negotiate, which was unacceptable. It’s important to negotiate with trade unions, especially in the public sector, about the wages in the upcoming period. Of course, this should be done in line with state capacities at the moment.
According to him, negotiations always start in the real sector because that’s where domestic product is created, budget filled and base for pay rise in the public sector made.
‘However, workers in this sector are undermined, low paid, harassed by employers, prevented from joining trade union or organizing any kind of meeting, despite the fact that these rights are guaranteed by the Constitution and laws. That is how dozens of people were kicked out of ‘Yura’ for wanting to establish trade union and that model is copied in many other companies’, he stressed.
The problem escalated in the Chinese tyre factory “Linglong”. The whole situation, involving the employment agencies which organized the arrival of Vietnamese workers to Serbia, presents a very shameful picture of our country.
President Orbović warned that foreign labour force was being imported because Serbian workers were looking for better living conditions; we offered a lot to the investors while salaries remained very low disabling workers from having decent life.
Presidents of branch unions pointed out specific problems. These are the following: in some companies salaries aren’t paid; state is powerless to penalize irresponsible employers; health insurance cards aren’t being certified and years of service aren’t being connected. What’s even more important is the necessity to sign branch collective agreements with the extended effect, which is currently at halt.
As Serbian PM Ana Brnabić estimated, there were still many problems in labour relations to be solved. She explained that the pay rise was encouraging, as well as the proposal to raise this year’s labour cost by 9.4%, which would make minimum wage surpass 35,000RSD (299EUR).
She also added that minimum wage increase, which was expected to be a bit over 7%, would be a lot higher than the GDP increase.
Brnabić explained that the pay rise in the public sector was 42% while in the real sector it was 52%. Now this gap is reduced. She reminded that by the budget for the following year the proposed pay rise in the public sector would be 7.4%.
During the pandemic the state provided aid in the amount of eight billion euros in order to prevent dismissals. Consequently, 60,000 new jobs were created.
‘We are making an effort to create a secure, predictable business environment so that employment would continuously grow, which would inevitably lead to market development and average wage growth’, said Brnabić.
In his concluding comment, President Orbović thanked representatives of the government for their readiness to talk and negotiate, which is the right way to solve problems and provide better living conditions for all workers.

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