4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Serbia

The ITUC affiliates in Serbia are the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia (CATUS) and the Ujedinjeni Granski Sindikati Nezavisnost (NEZAVISNOST).

In practice

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Refusal to comply with provisions of collective agreements09-05-2016

There are numerous cases of non-compliance of the employer with the provisions of collective agreements, especially in the healthcare sector. This includes the matters of:
-  Organisation and salary calculations for on-call duties and 24-hour shifts in workplaces such as General Hospital Pirot; Health centre Uzice; Aranđelovac General Hospital and General Hospital Smederevska Palanka;
-  Employee compensation costs in case of a family member’s death – in: Health Centre Batočina; Pharmacy Gnjilane and Health Centre Bac;
-  Jubilee awards payment – in: Health Centre Kula; Health Centre Stari Grad, Belgrade; Blood Transfusion Institute Nis; Health centre Uzice and Institute for emergency medical assistance Niš;
-  Severance payment for retirement – in: Health Centre Niš; Clinical Hospital Zemun and General Hospital Valjevo;
-  Transfer arrangements – in Health Center Užice;
-  Compensation for transportation to and from workplace – in: Health Centre Gadžin Han; General Hospital in Kikinda and Pharmacy Belgrade;
-  Overtime payment – in: Children’s University Hospital in Belgrade; Providing administrative and technical conditions for trade union work - Aranđelovac General Hospital; Health centre Vladimirci; Health centre Uzice; Health centre Požega; Institute for Neonatology in Belgrade and Health center Zajecar;
-  Salaries – in: Utilities Services in Republic of Serbia;
-  Payment compensation for transportation, meal allowances, bonuses and per diems in relation to civil servants;
-  Salaries, in relation to employees in primary, secondary and boarding schools.
In general, it is very difficult to conclude collective agreements at the sectorial and national levels. In addition, there are often problems with the extension of duration of collective agreements, as only agreements that bind the employer that employs more than 50 per cent of workers in a given branch can be extended, subject to the decision of the Government.

Ungrounded prosecutions 09-05-2015

In 2015 NEZAVISNOST Transport and Telecommunications Trade Union faced an accusation of tax evasion (non-payment of taxes for trade union membership fees), supported by immediate initiation of tax infringement proceedings and criminal prosecution against the union president. Tax inspectors had been investigating financial records of the union. The president of the union was threatened with arrest and seizure of his personal property, as well as the trade union property. He has been pressured to settle as soon as possible and to make the payment of the questionable tax. The legality of the tax prosecution was questionable in the view of existing clarification of the Ministry of Finance about the payment of taxes from trade union fees. Simultaneously, the amount of the requested tax was of such an amount that it put at risk the financial survival of the union. The prosecution therefore raises questions about possible anti-union intimidation and harassment.
The prosecution also intervened during the labour dispute labour dispute See industrial dispute in two emergency medical service companies owned by the local government (Blood Transfusion Institute Nis and Health Centre). There were cases of police interrogation of the trade union representatives involved in the dispute.

Lack of access to judicial remedy29-04-2016

Access to judicial protection in case of labour rights violations is restricted by the high court and legal fees imposed by the Act on Court Fees and the Law on the Bar tariff, in combination with the lack of possibility for a worker to be represented by a representative other than a lawyer (such as a trade union representative). Court proceedings, especially on labour issues, are extensively long. First instance proceedings take on average four years, but in many cases the length exceeds to as long as eight years. Exhaustion of remedies at all instances takes on average around seven years. NEZAVISNOST has already appealed to the Government to establish separate labour courts and procedures in order to speed up access to justice but so far with no results. In addition, there are many concerns relating to the lack of an independent character of the judiciary and its links to the Government.

Negotiations in bad faith26-04-2016

There are frequent cases of the Government negotiating in bad faith, either at the national level or at the company level (in its capacity as the employer). This was the case during negotiations in the Republic Geodesy Institute following the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
action. The Government formed a Working Group to draft a Reform Programme for the Institute, which was supposed to determine the optimum number of jobs in this institution. The drafting was to take place within an agreed time frame. Information about the arrangement and solving the collective dispute collective dispute See industrial dispute has been spread by the Government through the media. In practice however, contrary to the Government communications, the Working Group was unable to fulfill its task, as its Government members refused to schedule a meeting and plan the work according to the time frame. Similar manipulation of public opinion through the state-controlled media took place during the dispute over the draft law on the salary system in the public services, deemed unacceptable by the unions. Two representative trade union confederations announced a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
alert. Contrary to the facts, several Ministers and the Prime Minister announced in the media that the Government accepted all trade union demands. The information created considerable confusion for the public and trade union members, while the Government continued with the legislative process.
Negotiations are often prolonged without a reason at the sectoral or company level, leading in practice to the impossibility to conclude an agreement. This was the case during negotiations of the Sectorial Collective Agreement for kindergarten workers in Belgrade by the City of Belgrade (as employer) as well as during negotiations of the Sectorial Collective Agreement for preschools and employees in higher education institutions in the Republic of Serbia.

Insufficient consultation of legislative proposals26-04-2015

There are several examples of insufficient consultation of legislative proposals. In 2015 the Government adopted several laws directly applicable to social and economic rights without consultations either with the unions or with the Social and Economic Council of Serbia – for example: Law on Assembly of Citizens; Law on Amendments to the Law on Pension and Disability Insurance; Law on Health Care; Law on Amendments to the Law on Health Insurance. Also during 2015, the Government submitted a proposal on the new Law on Mining, which includes new provisions on the right to strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
. The proposal has not been consulted either with the unions or with the Social and Economic Council.

Interference in trade union organising in the military sector26-04-2016

Although the law regulates the right to organise in the military sector, in practice it is very difficult for the unions to make use of this right. The decrees that deal with the right to organise in the army prescribe that trade union activities can take place at the level of a brigade and issues should be solved at the level of the brigade command. Unions with a different structure that is not compatible with the army organisation, such as NEZAVISNOST, face serious problems in their organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. work. Visiting some units is possible only with the approval of the superiors and at the time when the command determine that organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. will not interfere with military affairs. These discretionary criteria are often misused by the command. During the trade union organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. campaign that took place in front of the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry intervened directly and prohibited the dissemination of the trade union leaflets, arguing that they revealed classified information (i.e., information about the material situation of employees in the Army of Serbia).

Interference in trade union activities and anti-union discrimination15-02-2015

Trade unions in Serbia are not sufficiently protected against interference in their activities. For example, in the public enterprise Skijalista Srbije, founded and owned by the State, the employer continuously tried to declare null the last trade union elections and to appoint representatives of the management as elected trade union representatives. This interference dates from February 2015.
In Yura Corporation, enterprise employees were not allowed to join the trade union at all. Trade union members often face discrimination – intimidation, psychological abuse, transfer to another workplace, dismissal – including in the public sector. This was the case in Health CenterVladimirci, Health Center Velika Plana, Health CenterPožega, General Hospital Aranđelovac. In the Confezioni Andrea Serbia, the members of NEZAVISNOST trade union were directly targeted by the employer and pressured to join another union that was controlled by the company. Trade unions are often denied facilities, even if guaranteed by law. Such situations take place even in the Government’s offices and agencies. This was the case of the trade union affiliated to NEZAVISNOST present in the Ministry of Internal Affairs which was continuously denied premises for their union work.

Favouritism in respect of particular organisations26-04-2016

NEZAVISNOST reports frequent cases of favouring one union over another, both by the private sector employers as well as by the State (which is still the major employer in Serbia). There is a clear pattern of favouring organisations not affiliated to – and not assisted by – a representative national confederation, therefore in a weaker bargaining position. Often these unions are created with the employer’s approval and are dependent on the employer’s financial support. Favouritism was observable during negotiations between the State and several occupational trade union organisations, in relation to organisations such as Union of Pharmacists and Doctors of Serbia; Trade Union of Nurses and Technicians of Serbia; Union of Administration; Police Union of Serbia; Independent Police Trade Union; Union of Serbian Electric Power Industry Elektroprivreda Srbije; and Union of Airport “Nikola Tesla”. For example, Elektroprivreda Srbije, owned by the State, fully controls its trade union. The organisation is registered only with the employer and receives approximately 9 millionEUR per year of financial support. The company refused to engage in negotiations with the relevant organisation affiliated to NEZAVISNOST and concluded a collective agreement with the controlled union, despite the lack of its representativity.
Unequal treatment is also present during the registration process. In accordance with the national legislation, trade union organisations are required to register at all levels (local/enterprise level, sectorial level, national level). The Ministry of Labour has up to 30 days to complete the registration process. In practice, many organisations affiliated to NEZAVISNOST had to wait more than three months for the final decision. In the meantime, they were not able to perform their activities and take part in collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
. At the same time, the Ministry of Labour was granting a fast-track registration procedure to other local unions that were affiliated to confederations close to the Government.

Government refuses to consult unions over labour law changes17-07-2014

The government has ignored established procedures to force changes through Parliament affecting minimum wage entitlements, employment provisions, pensions and disability insurance. Foreign business interests, notably the US Chamber of Commerce, have been actively pressing the government to reduce collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
rights, increase the maximum duration of temporary employment contracts, reduce severance pay and holiday allowances and re-define equal pay rules. Specifically, the laws that the government aims to amend are the following: the Labour Law; Law on Privatisation; Law on Bankruptcy; and the Law on Retirement and Disability Insurance. Approaches by national trade union centres CATUS and Nezavisnost to the Government for dialogue have been rebuffed, leaving the unions no option but to launch the general strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
on 17 July 2014.

Ministry of Health does not bargain13-08-2012

The Trade Union of Employees in Health and Social Protection of Serbia demanded pay increases and the withdrawal of a decree which would have resulted in the reduction of salaries. When workers and management disagreed, the union called a warning strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
on 29 June 2012 and initiated a collective labour dispute labour dispute See industrial dispute with the Settlement Board pursuant to the Law on Peaceful Settlement of Labour Disputes. However, the mediator Zivko Kulic explained that employers are neither organised nor ready to participate in the process. Employers did not even nominate a representative to the Settlement Board.

Denial of the right to strike to workers at Zastava Arms31-07-2013

Both the Ministry of Defence and the manager of the Zastava Arms, Rade Gromovic, denied the right to strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
and representation of the Zastava Arms and Trade Union in the supervising board of the company. It was argued that pursuant to the Law on Companies, an employee of the company does not have the right to be appointed as a member of the Supervising Board.

Organising discouraged30-11-2009

Workers who wish to form a trade union are often forced to take the employer’s “advice” not to unionise, or else face persecution. The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions (CATUS) has reported numerous examples of anti-union tactics. In 2009, trade unionists at MINEL-ELIP in Belgrade were subjected to psychological harassment and dismissal threats. Following the beating of a trade union president in 2008, the workers have been in constant fear of reprisals for their union activities. The management of Univerzal Iskra in Barič also threatened the trade union leader with dismissal, and pressured workers to leave the union. Labour inspectorates do not always make an effort to stop anti-union behaviour.

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