Last Updated: Monday, 16 October 2017, 14:54 GMT

2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Bosnia and Herzegovina

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 20 November 2008
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2008 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Bosnia and Herzegovina, 20 November 2008, available at: [accessed 17 October 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.

Population: 4,000,000
Capital: Sarajevo
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The national trade union confederation SSSBiH is still not registered, despite the government's promise to cooperate with the ILO. Trade union rights were violated by both public and private employers throughout the country, and the SSSBiH president received physical threats.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association is included in the constitution and the labour law of both the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Federation) and the Republika Srpska (RS). All workers, including migrant workers, are free to join trade unions, with the exception of the military.

In the Federation and the Republika, discrimination against trade union members and leaders is prohibited. Financial penalties are foreseen for anti-union discrimination against individuals, but there are no legal sanctions against employers who obstruct union organising.

The right to collective bargaining is recognised throughout the country.

Previous authorisation: The time limits prescribed in the legislation for the registration of trade unions are very short and, in the view of the ILO, equivalent to a system of prior authorisation. Exceeding such limitations may lead to disproportionate penalties, such as the dissolution of the organisation in question or cancellation of its registration. The law also regulates trade unions' internal procedures in great detail, restricting their freedoms.

The Minister of Justice of Bosnia and Herzegovina has the right to accept or reject trade union registration at the State level, and if no decision is made in 30 days, the registration is considered to be denied tacitly. The 30-day deadline is rarely respected in practice. Following the ILO intervention, the government prepared a draft law simplifying the registration procedures, which has yet to be considered by the Council of Ministers.

In Republika Srpska trade unions have to pay court costs in order to be registered.

Restrictions on choosing trade union representatives: Company-level trade unions of the Republika Srpska must be entered into the General Ledger of the Ministry of Labour, War Veteran and Disability Protection. The Rulebook of this General Ledger stipulates that the authorised trade union representative must provide a certificate of his or her full-time open-ended employment at the company. Employees on fixed-term contracts or part-timers cannot therefore be elected as trade union representatives. In the meantime, should the employer fail to produce the certificate, there are neither sanctions nor alternative means to prove one's employment.

Strikes limited: In the Federation, the employer must be notified of a strike in writing no later than ten days before the beginning of the strike. The written notification must list the reasons for the strike, the locality, and the date and time at which the strike is to take place. "Production maintenance" must be ensured during a strike. How this is to be done must be worked out in advance with the employer and announced no later than ten days before the strike is due to start. If no agreement is reached, then a strike will be declared unlawful by the court, trade unions can be fined up to 2,500 KM (€1,250) and workers may be punished. The SSSBiH is campaigning to change this law.

In the Republika Srpska, a minimum service must be provided by enterprises categorised as public services, the list of which is excessively long: for example, state radio and television and production of basic foodstuff. Workers in these enterprises must give at least eight days' notice before striking.

Trade union rights in practice and Violations in 2007

Birac factory – trade unionist cannot get his job back: Problems in Birac factory in the city of Zvornik (Republika Srpska) were reported in two previous editions of this Survey. On 19 April the first-degree court ruled that Dragan Savic, a trade unionist illegally dismissed in 2005, needed to be given a job adequate to his skills. Savic used to be the assistant head of mineral materials production. The employer refused to fulfil the court order, even after Savic obtained an additional enforcement order from the labour inspector. On 21 August the employer appointed Savic to a position in the security and fire protection guard, which was not only lower paid but also unacceptable given Savic's health condition. On 28 Savic was dismissed again. Waiting for the new trial and the outcome of negotiations between the company management and the Trade Union of Metal Industry and Mining, Dragan Savic remains unemployed, without any income for his family and without health insurance.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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