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news 01 May 15

Serbian Unions Mark May Day with Protests

Serbian unions will mark May 1 with protests in the capital against the loss of workers' rights and the growing problem of workers not being paid on time - or paid at all.

BIRN
Belgrade

The Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions of Serbia, the Independence Union and the Association of Unions of Pensioners will stage a protest in Belgrade on May 1, marking International Workers' Day.

Ahead of the protest, they organised a two-day campaign in six towns and cities across the country in order to promote labour rights and call for improvements.

The average salary in Serbia today is about €350 a month, while it is estimated that a four-member family needs about €550 to cover the expenses of the average shopping basket.

Meanwhile, data published by another union, the Association of Free and Independent Trade Unions, ASNS, suggest that more than half a million workers in Serbia do not receive their salaries on time.

Ranka Savic, head of the ASNS, said about 650,000 of employees face regular delays in receiving salaries while about 50,000 workers often do not receive them at all.

Savic said the data refer to employees in both the private sector and in public companies that are undergoing restructuring, adding that just about 17 per cent of employees in private companies receive their salaries on time.

According to her, while public sector workers are in a better position, these companies do not keep any records about companies that do not pay their workers on time.

“The state only keeps data on companies that are not paying their taxes and contributions [to the state budget],” Savic said on Thursday.

State labour inspections react only when unions or employees themselves alert them. Additionally, Serbia adopted a new Labour Law in mid-2014, that unions have criticized for making it easier for employers to sack their workers.

The law stipulates that fixed-term contracts can last for two, instead one year, cuts severance pay for redundant workers and reduces wages during the use of annual leave.

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