Building a network for labour dispute prevention and resolution

Balkan agencies for peaceful settlement of labour disputes 2nd annual meeting

News | 01 December 2017
(ILO-Budapest) The amicable settlement of individual and collective labour disputes is an approach employees and companies have started to resort to in the past years. Conditions of employment, termination of contracts, discrimination and harassment at the workplace, paying minimum wage and benefits, amendments and implementation of collective agreements are typically the issues that can be reconciled outside courts through labour dispute agencies. The first agency to settle such cases was established in Serbia in 2005 with ILO support. It has worked on 15,000 individual and collective labour disputes and managed to settle 6,000 cases. Since then labour dispute institutions have been established with ILO assistance in Albania, Bulgaria, BiH-Republika Srpska, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, and Romania. Over the years, they have settled thousands of cases out of court with an average success rate of 80 per cent. Yet, despite the great track record, most of the workers still turn to courts if they have a case to resolve, even if the agencies tend to work significantly more time- and cost-efficiently than courts.

Labour dispute agencies and responsible ministries from 7 Balkan countries came together for the second time as a network to share their experiences and to sign a cooperation agreement on 1-3 November, 2017 in Podgorica, Montenegro. At the meeting, participants validated the findings of sub-regional reports on individual labour dispute resolution systems, discussed guidelines for dispute prevention and current reforms impacting labour disputes. By signing a memorandum of understanding, the agencies and ministries declared their firm intention to work closely as a regional network in order to integrate peaceful labour dispute resolution into the legal system, and to offer it as an alternative, efficient method for settling employment-related disagreements for any citizen. They committed to provide trainings, exchange know-how and good practices. The agencies also agreed to implement case management systems and databases that will enhance knowledge on dispute prevention and resolution.