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Union solidarity leads to significant pay rise

13 February, 2023Unions at Chinese-owned ZiJin Bor copper mine in Serbia has signed a collective agreement with a 15 per cent wage increase. The win was made possible through strong solidarity among all unions and workers in the company.

Negotiations leading up the agreement have been marked by protests. When buying the mine from the state, the Chinese company had agreed to leave the existing CBA in place. But instead, the employer introduced a unilateral code of conduct. The union tried several times to negotiate a new agreement, but with no response from the employer, the workers took action and launched protests and strikes.

In December last year, IndustriALL Global Union and IndustriAll Europe sent a letter of support to SSMS, GS RIE Nezavisnost and ISS in their negotiations.

But the union and worker persistence paid off. On 8 February, IndustriALL affiliates SSMS and GS RIE Nezavisnost, signed a CBA with management at the mine, with the full support of all unions present in the workplace, including IndustriALL affiliate Industrial Trade Union of Serbia (ISS).

"The trade unions are satisfied with the agreement reached at the end of the negotiations, after several protests due to the arbitrary adoption of the work regulations that preceded the beginning of the negotiations,"

said Časlav Garić, GS RIE Nezavisnost president.

A central issue in the negotiations was the hourly pay. In the new agreement it has been successfully increased by 15 per cent, from RSD177 (US$1,6) to RSD192 (US$1,7) per hour. Working hours were increased and a payment of 4,000 dinars (US$36) is included in the basic salary.

Says IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan:

“IndustriALL congratulates the workers and the unions at the ZiJin Bor copper mine on this important win. It is a strong demonstration of solidarity and shows yet again, that when we come together, we win.”

The collective agreement was signed in the presence of the Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Policy, Nikola Selakovic.