Following very successful solidarity action by the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) in support of a postal workers’ strike in Serbia, we publish below a letter from the leader of the Independent Union of Postal Workers in Serbia expressing thanks to the CWI and appealing for further solidarity action.
To being with, a brief summary of the postal dispute.
Zoran Pavlović, leader of the Independent Trade Union of Postal Workers, was interviewed by socialistworld.net last November (http://www.socialistworld.net/index.php/international/europe/95-serbia/9534-serbia-interview-with-leader-of-striking-postal-workers). Zoran described the difficult situation workers were faced with, and the bullying tactics of the general manager of the Post Office. Thirty seven postal workers, including union activists and officials, were suspended from work as an act of retaliation by the management, for protesting about their legal employment status and working conditions in the Post Office.
The arrogance of Post Office management, but also from top Serbian politicians, can be seen in that nobody took the slightest interest in the fact that the management acted contrary to labour laws. That they can all be wilfully blind to the illegality of the management’s actions comes from years of arrogant rule in which even public companies are treated as private property and workers are treated as slaves, all with the nod of approval from the neoliberal government.
Serbian workers often feel powerless and abandoned, and this is something that the management, and the government, are keenly aware of. This is why the involvement and the solidarity from the CWI in the postal strike came to as a complete shock, and a very unpleasant one, to the bosses and politicians. It certainly contributed to the partial victory of the dispute: 32 out of 37 workers were reinstated to their jobs just before the New Year.
This great result shows the power of international solidarity. But the task is not quite yet done since there are still five workers, all union officials, who have not been given back their jobs. To help the postal workers achieve complete victory, we ask readers to continue sending messages of support, and to try to get trade unions involved, particularly those organising postal workers.
Below is an English translation of the letter to the CWI from Zoran Pavlović, leader of the Independent Trade Union of Postal Workers:
“We want, one more time, to thank CWI for everything you did and do for us suspended postal workers. Thanks to your activities, the media and our pressure, 32 employees out of 37 of us returned to work on December 29th. Still not returned to work are Zoran Pavlović President, Radovan Tešić, Vice President and Dejan Bogovac, President of our trade union organization at the Main Postal Centre in Belgrade, as well as Tin Antić, President, and Vladimir Djokić, Vice President, of the Solidarity Union of Post Office Serbia, who supported and took an active part in protests. We are still under suspension and there are no indications whatsoever whether we will be returned to work.
In a month and a half, for the duration of the suspensions, thanks to the support and solidarity of our colleagues, we managed to raise about 12,000 euros and we paid each suspended worker about 340 euros, which roughly covered their earnings for that period. All suspended persons are provided with free legal protection and a means for suing the Post Office Serbia, but unfortunately most of them will not do so for fear of retaliation.
In addition to the fact that our right to work is denied, we are forbidden to enter the post offices and in that way we are denied the right to take trade union action. We have repeatedly addressed this issue to all the authorities in the Republic of Serbia, but virtually no one has taken any action.
We kindly ask you for all the help you can give us through the CWI and to inform the post workers’ unions about our problems.
We urge workers, trade unionists and left activists to show solidarity with the struggle of postal workers in Serbia, by sending protest to:
Mira Petrović, acting general manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Prime minister, Ana Brnabić: email@example.com
Minister for tourism, telecomunication and services Rasim Ljajić firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
Minister for regional development and coordination of Public Companies Milan Krkobabić (PUPS) www.mbprr.gov.rs; firstname.lastname@example.org
Ministry for work, employment, war veterans and social issues
And copies to:
Support can be sent to the Independent Trade Union of Postal Workers president, Zoran Pavlović, at mobile number: (international code) +381646651087
Model protest resolution
To Prime Minister, Ana Brnabić; Minister for tourism, telecommunication and services; Minister for regional development and coordination of Public Companies; Ministry for work, employment, war veterans and social issues:
I have been informed by the CWI, and the Serbian activist group Borba, about the mistreatment of workers at the Public Enterprise Post of Serbia. The sacking and suspension of trade unionists for organizing within the company and protesting for better working conditions represents a fundamental attack on basic workers‘ rights. We welcome the reinstatement of 32 suspended workers, but strongly condemn the continued suspension of the remaining five members of the strike committee: Zoran Pavlović, President of the Independent Union of Postal Workers, Radovan Tešić Vice President and Dejan Bogovac, President of the trade union organization at the Main Postal Centre in Belgrade, as well as Tin Antić President and Vladimir Djokić, Vice President of the Solidarity Union of Post Office Serbia.
We stand in solidarity with the activists and officials of the Independent Union of Postal Workers and the Solidarity Union. It is outrageous that they are still facing suspension for protesting and asking for essential improvements, like higher wages, fair working contracts and more employees to manage the workload. The demands of the Independent Postal Workers Union are completely justified and we demand their immediate implementation. We will inform the public and media and keep them updated about developments.