Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2018, 09:04 GMT

2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Serbia

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Serbia, 9 June 2010, available at: [accessed 23 January 2018]
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: 7,800,000
Capital: Belgrade
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Several companies have exhibited anti-union behaviour, and have resorted to insults, harassment, threats of dismissal and refusal to bargain collectively. At least one person lost his job because of his union activities. The labour law hampers union formation as well as legitimate trade union activities.

Trade union rights in law

Trade union rights are limited despite some constitutional guarantees. The procedures for registering a union are very complicated, and authorisation is required from the Ministry of Labour.

To be recognised as a collective bargaining agent, a union needs to comprise 15% of the workforce. In addition, section 233 of the Labour Law imposes a time period of three years before a new organisation, or a union which has failed to obtain recognition, may seek a decision on representativeness.

Furthermore, the right to strike is heavily restricted, as parties to a collective agreement must submit their disputes to compulsory arbitration, which is also the case for disputes in services of general interest. A minimum service must be provided in strikes in "essential services", the notion of which is very broad. The procedures for determining the minimum service are set out in government regulations and can even lead to a total ban on strike action. Finally, the law provides for the suspension not only of wages, but also of social security rights of striking workers.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: Strikes and demonstrations swept through the country as a reaction to deteriorating living conditions, wage arrears and the authorities' failure to cope with the crisis. In the summer, some 33,000 workers in around 45 companies were on strike every day.

Organising discouraged: 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 Baric 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.

Unionists blackmailed and denied bargaining: Since January, the management of Interlemind, in Leskovac, has been blackmailing trade unionists by using threats of dismissal. The company has also refused to bargain collectively. In September, trade unions reported that insults from management had intensified.

Unionist dismissed, company prohibits union activities: On 25 August, Zlatko Francuski, a board member of the trade union at Gorenje Tiki, in Stara Pazova, was dismissed in connection with his trade union activities. More dismissals were reported later, and the management has prohibited any trade union activities within the company.

Strikers intimidated: On 24 September, the director of Obezbedjenje, in Trstenik, circled the company gates, threatened the striking workers and wrote down their names.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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