Public Discussion – an Illusion

After the public discussions on the Draft Law on Work Engagement Due to Increased Workload in Specific Economic Activities, which were held in several cities in Serbia during September, the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Issues published a Report summarizing the results of the discussions. During that time, the “I Live in the Off-Season Too” Initiative requested that the Draft Law should be withdrawn from the procedure considering that it threatened to seriously violate the labor rights, and 162 signatories, both individuals and organizations, sent the same request to the Ministry’s address.

It is clear from the Report that the Ministry had no intention of improving the Law at all, considering that most of the proposals put forward by the participants in the public discussion were not adopted. The main issue underlying the conflict between the advocates of the Law and those who criticize it are the provisions concerning the procedures for concluding contracts between employed persons and the employers. The dispute on this issue has been ongoing for several months, but even on this occasion, the Ministry did not side with the trade unions and other stakeholders who demanded an unequivocal obligation to conclude the contract in written form, as required by the Serbian labor legislation.

In addition, as we assumed, the public discussion was not public at all, as all the suggestions that were not submitted in the ”default” form were automatically rejected according to the ”incomplete documentation” rule. Instead of strengthening the mechanisms for the protection of workers, the Ministry continues to undermine the labor rights and labor safety system in Serbia. The government’s unwillingness to listen to and consider the arguments and objections presented by the trade unions, civil society organizations, and experts dealing with labor and employment issues is obvious. The Serbian Government and the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Issues continue their harmful practice of regulating an increasing number of labor issues by adopting special laws, threatening to completely undermine the importance of the Labor Law, which is the fundamental act that should protect workers.

The “I Live in the Off-Season Too” initiative once again calls on the Serbian Government and the Ministry to withdraw the proposed Draft Law from the procedure as it contradicts the Constitution and the international conventions that Serbia has ratified. We regret that, due to their unwillingness to participate in the dialogue, this issue has to be internationalized. Therefore, the “I Live in the Off-Season Too” Initiative will contact the International Labor Organization to inform them that this legal proposal is in contradiction with the international conventions in the field of labor, and demand that adequate measures should be taken“.