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Interview

Visit By The Head Of The Independent Trade Unions Ismet Bajramovic, 23.07.2015.

 

INTERVIEW: ISMET BAJRAMOVIC, HEAD OF THE BIH INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONS

 

By: Hamed IBISEVIC

SARAJEVO, July 26 (ONASA) – Bajramovic in an interview for ONASA Agency, among other things, speaks on the termination of the social dialogue between trade unions, the FBiH Government and employers in the FBiH, the new draft of the Labour Act and the deficiencies in its creation, the pressure of the IMF, employers and the FBiH Government to get the law passed in this form, the General Collective Agreement, workers’ rights when being hired and let go, maternity leave, internal regulations in smaller companies, the exodus of young people leaving BiH in search of work …

Head Bajramovic gave an interview during a recent visit to the ONASA Agency in new premises at Hamdije Kresevljakovica 12/I.

ONASA: Do you think as head of the Independent Trade Unions of Bosnia and Herzegovina that the FBiH Government and the Association of Employers’ of the FBiH does not respect the union as a social partner in the Economic-Social Council (ESC) for the territory of the FBiH?

BAJRAMOVIC: From all the previous events you could unfortunately say that. The previous tripartite talks between the Union, the FBiH Government and employers in the FBiH somehow were mostly led by the “hot-cold” system, depending on the subject matter eventually the FBiH government and employers would roughly kick us out of negotiations because someone was in a hurry, and they know why, to as soon as possible adopt the proposed new Labour Law, which, according to us was full of shortcomings and I do not believe it will bring anything good to the workers. At a certain point in time we had a fair, active and frequent dialogue but later down the road it came increasingly to a halt, and eventually to a complete breakdown of communication. I remind that we, appreciating our social responsibility, accepted the dialogue, we have entered into a discussion of legislative projects, in particular the Labour Law which has been sitting at various tables already seven to eight years. I am convinced that the law could have been adopted long time ago if we had not approached its creation the wrong way in order to include some european elements such as mobbing, the representative … to enter into a public debate that has become a kind of “lottery of desires” that no one could fulfill.

ONASA: Do you think that in the creation of the Act apart from the local authorities there are “other players” involved?

BAJRAMOVIC: it is difficult to clearly define and name but is obvious that the aim of the FBiH Prime Minister Fadil Novalic was that, within a month there would be a variety of laws that will go into the FBiH Parliament, which is beyond impossible to achieve at such a speed. We have hinted that our delegation cannot attend the Economic and Social Council sessions July 28. They have unilaterally decided that they will hold the collegium first, that they will hold the session of the Economic and Social Council without the Union because, as I said the Prime Minister is in a hurry to put the Labour Law on the agenda of the government session as already happened at this one. We are at this stage when we insisted the entire time that we have concrete dialogues regardless of being accused that we are avoiding it, we have come to a situation that we do not have dialogue, and were pushed out of the negotiations so we currently do not have any dialogue with the aforementioned social partners.

ONASA: What is actually the biggest obstacle in the adoption of the new Labour Law details of which BiH public knows little of?

BAJRAMOVIC: Prime Minister Novalic recently addressed the public and said that the proposed new law contains 30 drastic improvements. Under this dramatic improvement falls one that a father has the right to maternity leave, or mothers, as they always had the right to a year of maternity leave. But nowhere does he say that if necessary the employer may return her to work for “higher interests of the company”. If these are the prime minister’s thoughts, who was once an employer, but should now represent the interests of citizens of FBiH and if we are advising him that this is adding fuel to the fire, that is beyond belief. Now, it is known existing laws are violated, they through practice, see that it works and they now want to legalize it and protect it by the new law. For instance, they lay off a worker, a disabled person of second category, now they cannot do it without consultation with the Council staff, under the new law is proposed that this worker may dismiss employees without the Council, and in drastic improvements of the new law, according to Novalc it is stated that the employee may work overtime until he/she collapses. They now propose, and I think the PM has his fingers in it who has some sort of company that instead of 15, now you do not have to have internal rules in the company that employ 50 workers, which are most widespread, so that if we accept this possibility these companies will not need a union, nor the Council of employees, nor the internal rules which in fact means that employers can do whatever they please. There are all sorts of loopholes for overtime, working hours, holidays. For example, the European Social Charter prescribed that the minimum number of working days for vacation is 20, they wanted to reduce to 18 or lower.

ONASA: Is there a particular interest of foreigners for the Labor Law to be adopted in such a company?

BAJRAMOVIC: I was most difficult statement made by a high-ranking European politicians who with a mouthful says that workers in BiH have extremely high labor rights. It seems to be easier to fight the workers and their rights than criminals. Those from the IMF only speak about the duration of collective agreements and that seems to be the only thing that interests them. They only look to eliminate global collective agreements because it is easier to perform manipulation, pressures, mobbing the workers. On one occasion we asked them: “What is your interest to solve business problems of the government and the employers to have them respond that it is to guarantee that they will be returning the loans. Slovenia avoided ties with the IMF and showed them the path, and recommend us that we try it. They also said that wherever the IMF came to was a sad sight. We believe today that the Government should not do: take a loan, giving out salaries, and that is it. We eventually, of which we have evidence, proposed to extend loans to the real sector, the production, those sectors we live off of. The situation was similar with the VAT when the FBiH Prime Minister was Adnan Terzic and when it was promised that at least 50 percent of the funds from VAT would be poured in real or social sector, regardless. We know that this did not happen was that is why today we have thousands of years of unbound services.

ONASA: Is BiH becoming a place where workers are definitely completely disenfranchised and have no one to look to protect their rights?

BAJRAMOVIC: Workers can still turn to us, we articulate their views. Some criticize us that we stand and fight for those in the administration. Labor Law is related primarily to workers in the real sector, so why are they fighting to change this law if it is a law that protects the bureaucracy. This law applies to private, real sector. General Collective Agreement defines the relationship of workers’ rights, the Labour Act defines the rights of workers and collective agreement the volume, the amount of rights. For instance, General agreement stipulates that the employee is entitled to annual leave, a collective agreement stipulates how many days. So the whole thing and all in the Labour Law is tantamount to collective agreements, severance pay, workers’ rights when receiving and release, rights of the disabled, mothers.

ONASA: Will the Union call workers to protest if they are not satisfied with the new Labour Act?

BAJRAMOVIC: This is our only right, because the Union has the right and obligation to invite the workers when are not satisfied. We will certainly call workers to protests when the law heads to the FBiH Parliament. We will not allow our workers to become slaves, and hand employers the whip. This is not, unfortunately, a metaphor. Employers are preparing a dangerous trap. They are giving a tempting a story inviting viewer or listener to seek to increase the minimum salary and the definition of the base salary so that they can demonstrate to the public that they increased the salary from 300 to 500 BAM, but that the minimum salary should be defined. If left to the employer to assess the work in performance without a single official nomenclature of the workplace and analytical assessment then the employer will determine what and whose work is better, I am afraid, this will not be good for workers. The new law is a trap whereby the employer in the first two years will be exempted from payment of contributions which could lead to hiring a new employee after the end of two years for whom again the employer will not pay contributions.

ONASA: Can the Union prevent an exodus or mass exodus of young people looking for work from BiH ?

BAJRAMOVIC: It is a complete lie that because of the Labour Act which is now in effect people cannot be employed, because, due to those who are employed and have been working for years they cannot get jobs. They cannot get a job because this country is ruled by crime, elite families, new Beys, new capitalists and those who are enormously rich at the expense of the poor. (end)