Serbia - Severe violations of the right to freedom of association at the Republic’s Geodetic Authority

According to Nezavisnost, it is common practice for employers in Serbia to form and register “their own” trade unions to thwart independent unions’ efforts to organise. Such practices are frequent in the public sector as illustrated by the case of the Republic’s Geodetic Authority (RGA), which is under the direct competence of the government of the Republic of Serbia. The director has formed his own “in-house” trade union – “Geosindikat” (Geo-Trade Union) – which uses the RGA website to advertise itself and disseminate false information while constantly insulting and slandering other registered trade unions.

In January 2019, the government concluded an agreement with the representatives of the Strike Committee of the RGA, whereby the strike, which had started in December 2018, was called off.

However, the government and RGA management failed to comply with the signed agreement. Therefore, RGA employees organised a new strike in April 2019, which in May was again called off when an agreement was reached with the government.

On the same day the agreement was concluded, RGA brought proceedings to challenge the representativeness of Nezavisnost and CATUS (Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia) within the Authority.

During the proceedings, Geosindikat actively supported the employer’s actions, and Nezavisnost and CATUS were deprived of their representative status. The RGA director filed criminal charges against the Nezavisnost and CATUS representatives and leaked their names to the press.

At the date of publishing, it is not known whether a decision has been handed down on this case.

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