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Establishing a Coordinating Committee for Workers Protests in Serbia


The Strike Committees of Zastava Elektro, Srbolek, Šinvoz and BEK have established a joint Coordinating Committee for workers Protests in Serbia, with the aim of struggling in solidarity with one another against the closure of our factories and the preservation of our jobs.

We call on all Strike Committees in Serbia to jointly find a way of preserving our jobs, for a way to survive. After 20 years of collapse, finding solutions to our problems certainly won’t be easy. It is precisely for this reason that we must immediately begin looking for them.

Throughout Serbia at the moment workers are organizing protests because their jobs and the survival of their families are threatened by the catastrophic state of industry. Despite their number and frequency, these workers initiatives still don’t have the power to affect significant change, while their temporary successes are exclusively reduced to securing the paying-out of severances and wages. We believe that such outcomes fail to address the source of the problem that workers in Serbia face. In order to keep our jobs broader changes are needed in the state and in society.

The Šinvoz and BEK factories in Zrenjanin are no longer working because the state allowed the buyers of these firms to drive them intentionally into bankruptcy. This was done so that upon the firms collapse the new private owners could take over their assets as the main creditors [using shell companies] and transform the factories into construction plots. Despite the warnings of workers, the state has turned a blind eye to such scams, leaving workers without jobs and shareholders without shares.

The majority of shares in Belgrade’s Srbolek were bought through a financial scam carried out on the Belgrade stock-exchange. Even though the Securities Commission confirmed two years ago that Sbrolek’s buyers violated the Law on the Acquisition of Stockholding Companies (2006), the usurpers were allowed to purchase the disputed 25% of shares with Srbolek’s own funds. In effect they were able to re-assume control over the oldest pharmaceutical company in Serbia and to continue leading it into debt and bankruptcy. Is the state waiting for the same scenario that played itself out with Šinvoz and BEK to be repeated again?

Zastava Elektro from Raca has not been functioning for nearly a year since its irresponsible owners botched a contract with the multinational company Delphi. Prior to this they had already begun falling behind on their obligations to firms with which Zastava Elektro had held contracts with prior to privatization.  Besides the fact that the new owners violated the privatization agreement, and besides the assurances of Delphi that they will renew cooperation with Zastava Elektro – but not with its current owners – the Privatization Agency is refusing to admit to its mistakes by annuling the privatization agreement before it’s too late.

These are just a few of the thousands of similar stories in Serbia, which point to the real causes of this economic crisis – i.e. plunder and lawlessness in the privatization process.

It is for this reason that the Strike Committees of Zastava Elektro, Srbolek, Šinvoz and BEK are founding a Coordinating Committee for Workers Protests in Serbia, with the aim of struggling in solidarity with each other against the closure of our factories and for the preservation of our jobs. Our joint problem stems from the systematic problem of corruption in Serbia, which we can only resolve by together demanding real change in this state and society in order to bring about the uprooting of corruption. The Government of Serbia’s strategy of reducing our problems to individual cases and resolving them through pay-offs are simply attempts to distract attention from the real causes behind the collapse in Serbia’s industry.

For this reason we call on all Strike Committees in Serbia to jointly find a way of preserving our jobs, to find a way to survive. After 20 years of collapse, finding solutions to our problems certainly won’t be easy. It is precisely for this reason that we must immediately begin looking for them.

    Signed,

            For Zastava Elektro’s Strike Committee
            by Slobodan Gajic

            For Srbolek’s Strike Committee
            by Zoran Gocevic

            For Sinvoz’s Strike Committee
            by Mita Lisica

            For BEK’s Strike Committee
            by Milena Prstojevic

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