Access to grievance mechanisms for workers in selected industries in Serbia

The ILO and the GIZ will work together in order to provide workers in the automotive, electrical and textile industry in Serbia with better access to grievance mechanisms, including amicable settlement of labour disputes. The project will also aim at training compliance officers in these industries, with a goal of increased awareness of and reliance on grievance mechanisms.

Following its adoption in 2021, the German Supply Chain Due Diligence Act (SCDDA) came into force on January 1, 2023. The law requires German companies to identify and assess risks to human rights and the environment within their supply chains, and establish effective risk management systems.

Serbia has been selected by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development as a country with a significant number of enterprises belonging to German companies’ supply chains. The German Organization for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the ILO will work together on improvement of conditions for implementation of the SCDDA by the Serbia-based enterprises. Thus far, the institutional arrangement of the grievance mechanism in the country has primarily consisted of the procedures of mediation and arbitration offered by the Agency for Amicable Settlement of Labour Disputes (AASLD), while the Office of Commissioner for Equality Protection has been in charge of prevention of discrimination at work.

The coverage of the grievance mechanisms by the current labour legislation in Serbia appears to be limited, and a lot of enterprises seem to rely on informal and unfitting internal mechanisms for complaints at the workplace. In response to these challenges, the project works to strengthen the AASLD in two main directions: 1) through awareness-raising among workers throughout the country about its work, as the number of cases it receives is still relatively low; 2) through broader training of its newly-engaged mediators and arbiters in order to ensure solid service delivery. In parallel with that, the grievance handling capacities of companies in target industries are weak, so the project will also aim to identify and train up to 40 complaints officers in these selected industries.