After many years of decline, and for the first time since 2008, a growth was recorded in the production and sale of construction materials in Serbia in 2016.
Manufacturers of building materials say that that can only be attributed to bigger exports, and warn that they are still battling with unfair competition while construction workers in Serbia are among the least paid workers in Europe.
Back in the day, Serbia had close to 100 brick factories. Today, there are only a dozen left. A decade ago, Serbia had 7,000 people working in building materials industry, while today this number is only 2,000.
“Our biggest markets are Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria and Romania. It is important to mention that the number of issued building permits grew last year which is great for us because our products are used both in residential construction and renovation”, says Slavica Zivkovic, the Secretary General of the Association of Manufacturers of Building Materials.
The value of the executed construction works last year grew by 5% compared to 2015. There are 1/3 more new contracts and issued building permits. Most construction projects are implemented in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Zlatibor. 12% of the total workforce in Serbia works in construction, while one quarter of the workforce are seasonal construction workers.
“We don’t have enough construction workers in Serbia and sub-contractors often pick up people from the street to work, who are totally unequipped for working in construction. These people are undocumented workers and they are not treated well”, says Saša Torlaković, president of the Construction Workers Trade Union.
According to the line ministry, the total value of the construction works to be carried out in the next year is 970 million EUR and these are the projects that domestic companies can participate in. However, the problem remains with lack of trained bricklayers. This year, only 10 students in Serbia are studying to be bricklayers.
This post is also available in: Italiano