Last Updated: Friday, 22 September 2017, 11:21 GMT

2016 ITUC Global Rights Index - Serbia

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2016
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2016 ITUC Global Rights Index - Serbia, 9 June 2016, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5799aa58c.html [accessed 23 September 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Lack of access to judicial remedy: 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 faith: 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 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 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 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.

Interference in trade union organising in the military sector: 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 work. Visiting some units is possible only with the approval of the superiors and at the time when the command determined that organising will not interfere with military affairs. These discretionary criteria are often misused by the command. During the trade union organising 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).

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