Trade unions warn of dire working conditions in Serbian factories

Representatives of trade unions in Serbia are warning that factory workers in Serbia are being exploited more and more.

As they stated, their working hours keep increasing, production conveyor belts are sped up against rules to make the workers work faster, they are not allowed to take sick leave or even bathroom breaks, and yet the authorities are doing nothing or very little to remedy the situation.

Following a worker from Leoni factory in Kraljevo recently fainting at his workplace, the president of the Association of Independent Trade Unions of Serbia (SSSS) Ljubisav Orbović said that employees in a number of factories are in an increasingly difficult position.

“We have been constantly warning that workers are harassed, that they are asked to work longer than eight hours, they are not allowed to take sick leave, so they work sick and more often, due to exhaustion, they faint at the workplace. Recently, it has been noticed that conveyor belts in their factories are running at speeds that are illegal for longer periods of time so that workers can work faster and yet cannot immediately notice that,” said Orbović.

 A worker at the Leoni factory in Kraljevo, as reported by the media, fainted at her workplace a few days ago, and was taken to a doctor, where she was pronounced dead.

Orbović also said that the union does not know how to solve the problem of the increasingly difficult position of employees and that it does not have good cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Employment of Veterans and Social Affairs.

He pointed out that the fact that the Labour Law has not been changed poses a problem, despite the trade union insisting on it for a long time.

In the meantime, as he said, several laws have been adopted – the Law on Foreigners, which regulates their employment, the Law on Work Engagement in Seasonal Jobs (in certain industries) and the Law on Recruitment Agencies, which “water down” the Labour Law and reduce the work rights of employees.

The president of the Nezavisnost trade union, Čedanka Andrić, says that factory workers are increasingly working longer hours and that labour inspectors should look into that. The problem is that, according to the 2015 Law on Inspection Supervision, labour inspectors are obligated to announce themselves to the company before they come for an inspection. She added that the law should be aligned with the international convention and that inspectors should not have to announce their arrival at factories beforehand.  

“We cannot help the workers even though they complain more and more often about working standards that are too high, overtime work and difficult conditions. In many factories workers don’t have trade union representation and are fearful of losing their jobs,” said Andrić.

(, 01.03.2023)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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