"Austerity measures won't help economy recover"

International Trade Union Confederation General Secretary Sharan Burrow has warned that genuine social dialogue needs to be established in Serbia.

Source: Beta, Tanjug

Burrow, who is visiting Serbia, also noted on Thursday that sustainable demand, and consequently a sustainable economy, is not possible if people have no income.

Burrow noted that she informed Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić about her point of view during their meeting.

"When wages and pensions are lowered people become poor if they cannot pay their bills, if they cannot invest, this directly affects the quality of demand and certainly does not help economic recovery," said Burrow.

The solution is in investing in new jobs, not in austerity, she noted.

Burrow added that Vučić said he was "sorry that there was no public debate on amendments to the labor law" that were introduced last summer, and that he "did not know about this omission."

At a conference on the economic crisis and social dialogue Burrow said that employees must know that they have the right to minimum wage and to collective bargaining, and not work for free, which, as she said, amounts to theft.

She criticized the fact that the arrangement with the International Monetary Fund was still under a "veil of secrecy" and that trade unions did not know the details, as well as that the trade unions had not been consulted when the Labor Law was passed.

Burrow underscored that social dialog needs to be established as soon as possible and added that she had received assurances from the prime minister that such dialog would take place.

Leader of the United Branch Trade Unions (UGS) Independence Branislav Čanak stressed that there can be no successful economy unless individuals are able to exercise their rights at their workplace and be productive.

Čanak described the today's meeting with the prime minister as encouraging.

Head of the Employers' Association of Serbia Nebojša Atanacković said that all Serbian governments, including the present, run the country in the same way - "as an emperor would."

He noted that although the social dialogue was officially established in Serbia in 2001, in practice it is nothing but “a painting on the wall“.

The trade unions and the representative employers' association mostly share the same opinion and interest, because we all want an efficient state, Atanacković underscored.

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