On November 26, 2018 in Belgrade national conference ‘Protect our Workers – PoW: Facilitating transnational administrative cooperation and improve access to information and counseling of posted workers’ was held. The meeting was realized within the Project ‘Protect our Workers – PoW: Facilitating transnational administrative cooperation and improve access to information and counseling of posted workers’ where the CATUS acting as a leading partner gathered the representatives of CATUS and TUC NEZAVISNOST, Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs, Labour Inspectorate, Serbian Chamber of Commerce and Serbian Association of Employers.
Participants in the Conference considered the amendments to the Law on Requirements for Temporary Assigning Employees to a Foreign Country and Their Protection which is adopted in July 2018, control points of the Labour Inspection on the occasion of assigning employees to a foreign country, then social package for posted workers which was adopted by the European Parliament. They also where inform about Project and preliminary research for Serbia received by questionnaire uploaded at web platform and designed for project purpose.
Serbia is a country of labour emigration because 10,580 workers were assigned to work abroad in 2016 and last year 13,916 did the same. Draft of amendments to the Law on Requirements for Temporary Assigning Employees to a Foreign Country and Their Protection is meant to regulate this area, make it more transparent and prevents misuse.
Registration at the Central Register of the Ministry of Finance enables an easier access to posted workers’ data, concerning the respect of their rights and insurance. Also, it was stressed that according to the new Draft of Law it was not allowed to assign an employee, who had been employed less than 3 months, to work in a foreign country and the quota of mandatory 20% of workers in the companies which assign their workers to a foreign country was determined. This way misuse and lease of workers over agencies, where the companies don’t even have full time employees but only hire them to do a certain job or render a service abroad, are avoided.
However, it is very difficult to establish well-kept records. Workers go to the Labour Inspection only when something happens, many do this out of fear and if work on black market is in question, they do nothing. Serbian Labour Inspection which is the member of the International Association of Labour Inspection has special lists for posted workers. Lately a great number of fictitious employers who assign workers to a foreign country has been determined. Employment contracts are concluded at the border or even in the host country. Promised conditions are most often not fulfilled and occupational health and safety are especially critical because workers have not had their medical check-ups, have not been trained to work and do not comply with standards for jobs with increased risks. Criminal charges are brought against such employers, business licenses are revoked and fines are foreseen.
Participants expressed how worried they were because of an actual exodus, young professionals who are leaving the country. Due to this everyone should get involved, all institutions and social partners should take this issue into consideration.
Amendments to legislation precisely saying that the annex to employment contract has to contain data on other fees, diet, accommodation, which can also be found in a collective agreement or a rulebook and are most often inaccessible to workers, would be very important. Our Labour Inspection should keep special statistics for posted workers, separate from other forms of control. Organizing seminars and workshops which would involve all relevant actors – Labour Inspection, trade unions, employers’ associations, NGOs dealing with workers’ mobility, directives and their application, results and decisions of the European Parliament related to the social package for posted workers, application of directives within legislation of certain countries, methods of using IMI and better cooperation among countries – would be quite useful.
Participants where informed about preliminary research for Serbia received by questionnaire from mainly posted and agency workers, experts, and representatives of brunch trade unions with huge amount of posted workers such as construction, road maintenance workers, transport at cetera. It was noticed that there is no enough information about posted workers, about there rights, salaries and also about their status – posted, agency or self employed.
On May 29, 2018 European Parliament ended its discussion
posted workers who are sent by an employer from one country to work in another country. Duration of posted workers’ stay in a foreign country may last a year with possible extension of six months. Also, posted worker must receive equal pay for equal work as a worker in a host country, which prevents discrimination and social dumping. While some are celebrating this decision marking the victory of social Europe, the others are of the opinion that new protectionism preventing workers from central and eastern Europe to enter western European labour market will appear. It is surely disappointing that ‘social package’ is not meant to be used by transport workers who still sleep in their booths and spend days driving without any rest, which consequently harms their safety and that of other participants in traffic.5. Posted Workers Directive isn’t applied completely and the European Court of Justice knows about the cases of Ruffert, Laval, Viking, Luxembourg, where collective agreement is not applied to posted workers, as well as the principle of equal pay for equal work, regardless of a posted worker or an employee. The principle of free movement of labour force which represents a starting basis now is a problem. Collective agreements concluded in the European Union aren’t implemented and new instruments of securing their implementation are being sought for. European Court of Justice is still looking for exact instructions to create court practice for the implementation of Posted Workers’ Directive. The conclusion is that trade union organizations should put additional pressure on the executive power to respect Posted Workers Directive.
Participants in Conference pointed out that cooperation of institutions and social partners was extremely important, as well as their networking, exchange of information, trade union mapping and giving support to posted workers to turn to trade unions in a host country and get interested in their rights, relevant standards regarding salaries and working conditions. Cooperation protocol with Slovakia and Agreement with Slovenia did not brought results, and problems are still present and we face misuse on a daily basis.