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Serbia: Three week strike at FIAT ends

28 July, 2017Two thousand striking workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCA) plant in Serbia – FCA Srbija – have suceeded in gaining a 9.5 per cent pay increase and keeping their annual bonus, amongst other gains, in a deal signed between Fiat and Serbian trade unions on 25 July. 

It follows an unprecedented three weeks of strike action at the factory in Kragujevac, and effective trade union mobilization which benefitted from the support and solidarity of fellow trade union organizations from all the way across Europe and beyond.

On June 27, trade unions and 2,000 workers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Serbian subsidiary made the decision to strike after their call to open negotiations to solve their increasingly difficult employment conditions remained unanswered.

Negotiations between Fiat management and Serbian trade unions began on 19 July with the mediation of Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic, whose government owns one third of FCA Srbija. The negotiations came after repeated calls from the unions and instructions from the national labour inspectorate to comply with Serbian law on strikes, which FCA local management had violated.

IndustriALL Global and IndustriAll European Trade Union stood in solidarity with FCA Srbija workers and their affiliated trade unions SSMS (the independent metal workers’ union of Serbia) and GS IER “Nezavisnost” (the sectoral trade union in industry, energy and mining sectors) in their fight for decent wages and working conditions.

Trade unions from all across Europe (Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain) and beyond (through FCA-CNH Industrial global union network) expressed their support to colleagues in the Serbian plant and urged the group management at FCA headquarters in Italy to ensure workers’ rights are complied with and proper social dialogue opened with the unions.

IndustriAll European Trade Union and IndustriALL Global Union welcome the fact that social dialogue finally took place on Serbian trade unions’ demands, which allowed for negotiations to take place and yielded some important initial results for FCA Srbija workers, as follows:

  • A 9.54% wage increase was agreed over the next six months, and the principle of adjusting wages to offset inflation was endorsed
  • The annual bonus will be paid as originally agreed. Discussion on introducing an efficiency bonus as it exists in other countries (such as Italy or Poland) will be launched in early 2018
  • Public transport compensation will be doubled for those working outside of standard working (and public transport) hours
  • A commission composed of FCA management, trade unions and technical experts from the company’s headquarters will be set up as of September 2017 to assess the work organisation in order to tackle work overload

IndustriALL Global Union general secretary Valter Sanches said:

“We salute the spirit of struggle and determination of our Serbian affiliates during and at the end of this dispute, and note the importance of international solidarity to achieve this result. We expect this signed agreement to create the foundation for proper social dialogue.

“FCA Srbija must now commit to working with the unions to satisfy the legitimate demands and expectations of the workers.

“Once again our solidarity and support has been and will be with our sisters and brothers in Serbia in their fight for better working and living conditions.”

The agreement provides initial answers to some of the workers’ most urgent claims, and lays the foundations for social dialogue, which will continue after September with negotiations on a new three-year collective agreement.

 Luc Triangle, General Secretary of industriAll European Trade Union, said: 

"The fight against precarious work and wage inequalities is a top priority for industriAll Europe. We can no longer accept that workers doing the same job for the same company across Europe receive notably different levels of wages and working conditions. We thus welcome the agreement reached at FCA Srbija which represents a first step in the right direction. We will pay careful attention in ensuring that the planned further talks help to achieve a decent living for all FCA Srbija workers."