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Some 200 delegates and international guests gathered 11 May in the Serbian city of Kragujevac for the founding Congress of Industrija, Energija, Rudarstvo, or IER Nezavisnost, the new 35,000-member industrial front of UGS Nezavisnost that brings together the ICEM-affiliated Chemicals, Non-Metals and Mining Trade Union, or GSHNER Nezavisnost, with the federation’s metalworking union (GSM Nezavisnost), and the Trade Union of Textile, Leather and Shoe Industries (GSTKO Nezavisnost), an affiliate of the International Federation of Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation (ITGLWF).
The merger marked the first time in Serbia that trade unions combined to gain greater strength, rather than past trends of pulling apart.
Guest speaker, ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda, made note of this fact and drew the parallel of this historic achievement to what is now occurring on the global level with the creation of IndustriALL.
The founding Congress was held in Serbia’s fourth largest city, a community now gearing up with production of a 2,500-worker Fiat automotive plant in which union recruitment will be essential. The Congress saw guests come from the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF), the European Metalworkers’ Federation (EMF), IndustriEnergi (IE) of Norway, FIM-CISL of Italy, FNME-CGT of France, Petrom of Romania, EKN of Croatia and KNG of Slovenia.
Also in attendance were several representatives from regional-based companies, which signal realistic expectations that tri-partite and bi-lateral social dialogue is on the horizon.
The Congress elected former GSHNER Nezavisnost President Milorad Panović as President and Dragon Vesić of that former union as General Secretary. Elected as Vice Presidents were former GSM Nezavisnost President Nenard Matić and former GSHNER Nezavisnost Vice President Zoran Pantelić. GSTKO Nezavisnost is represented on the eight-member Executive Committee by Boško Karalić.