Regional training for constituents

How do I promote decent work?—Constituents’ voices

On 25-28 September, 2018 the ILO brought together a group of its constituents in Central and Eastern Europe for a training on key labour market and social policy issues in the region. The objective of the training was to provide participants with the latest evidence in order to support them in their role as advocates for the decent work agenda.

News | 29 October 2018
We interviewed three of the twenty-two training participants to obtain a full spectrum of perspectives. They shared the challenges they face in their home countries, what their daily work involves, and details of their collaboration with the ILO. They also explained how the training enriched them.

Boban Gledović, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Montenegro

©ILO/Márton Kovács
Please introduce yourself.

I am Boban Gledović. I work as Advisor at the Directorate for Labour Market and Employment, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in Montenegro. I’m mainly responsible for labour market policies (youth in particular) and analysis of data and trends.

What are the labour market challenges in Montenegro at this time?

The biggest challenges Montenegro faces are the low levels of activity and employment.  Low activity rates indicate there is insufficiently used human potential which, if activated, could significantly contribute to economic growth. In addition, weak labour mobility, existing employment or reemployment disincentives and the proliferation of the informal economy signal the need for a more flexible labour market. Unemployment rate has been decreasing over the last years, but it is still high (14.4% in IIQ of 2018).

What are the challenges in your position?

Personally, one of key challenges I face at work is the lack of detailed data, which are essential for conducting research and creating evidence-based policies. The labour market information system which I am working on at present with support of ILO will hopefully lead to significant progress in this area. We are currently establishing  an online platform with consolidated information and indicators of labour data produced by diverse institutions. The online platform, produced with ILO assistance, is a one-stop-shop where the main target groups, policy-makers from different institutions, job seekers and youth, as well as the public will have access to up-to-date statistics, employment information or job openings. We are hoping to launch the labour market information platform by the end of 2018.

How do you think you benefitted from the training? What were the most valuable elements for you? 

For me, personally, the most relevant and enlightening part of the training was the session on Active Labour Market Policies. For certain groups of people, such as the long term unemployed and women of a certain age, it is more difficult to find job opportunities than for others. The activation policies are efficient instruments to bridge this gap by linking active job search to benefits, by making work pay opposed to out-of-work benefits, or by providing incentives to employers. The session on Minimum wage policies also influenced my thinking. I will make great use of the criteria for determining minimum wages and the calculation methodology trainers shared with the participants. In addition, the training method was highly engaging and encouraging.

Bojana Bijelović Bosanac, Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions in Serbia

©ILO/Márton Kovács
Please introduce yourself.

My name is Bojana Bijelović Bosanac, I am expert advisor of the International Department of the Confederation of Autonomous Trade Unions in Serbia.  I have been President of the Youth section since 2010, and also work on specific youth-related projects. I am also involved in activities around the accession of Serbia to EU and recently became a member of EU-Serbia Civil Society Joint Consultative Committee.

What are the labour market challenges in Serbia at this time?

In Serbia, the biggest issues related to employment are finding decent job opportunities which would include a decent salary, paid social security contributions, perspectives for advancing in career, keeping the job after having a child (especially for women working in services sector), employment for people above 50 years of age, and employment for Roma people. Since 2014 the Government has introduced a ban on employment in public sector.  That decision has been in power for 5 years now and mostly affected young people in sectors of education, health, social security, public administration, but also infrastructure and crafts. The unemployment rate for youth 15-24 years of age is among the highest in Europe (47.1% in 2014) but now has dropped to 27.5% in 2018. This change happened partly due to a vast emigration wave and we estimate that for the last 10 years roughly 300 000 people, mostly young, have left Serbia in pursuit of decent jobs elsewhere. The inactivity rate is also high, at rate of 44.8% in total and 70.3% for the 15 to 24 age group.

What are the challenges in your area?

In Serbia, there are two representative trade union confederations and on that basis CATUS is member of the Social-Economic Council of Serbia (SEC). Unions are not satisfied with the level of social dialogue in practice because many laws get adopted or amended without going through adequate procedure within SEC. There are problems with organizing unions in newly established companies and in multinational companies, most of whom receive some subsidies from the Serbian Government. We often contact our colleagues from European unions for their support and push for freedom of association and collective bargaining. CATUS insists on regular SEC meetings where we can work with Government’s and Employers’ representatives on more qualitative solutions.
Our priority at this time is to organize and support as many young people to join unions as possible. We provide opportunities for their networking, capacity building and active involvement within union structures.

How do you think you benefitted from the training? What were the most valuable elements for you?

The training seminar brought more complex insights into the issues the Confederation deals with every day. After the sessions, I started to think differently about certain questions, i.e. Active Labour Market Policies or pension insurance reform. If you want young people to work, you should not raise the retirement age. We discussed whether raising the contribution rate from salaries could be a more efficient approach to fill up pensions’ funds than simply making people work longer.
Another question I started to think about is giving a more substantial, influential role to Social Partners to make real progress on the labour market in Serbia. Would it help if they had more financial resources on their own to put into Active Labour Market Policies? Social partners participate in employment policy creation without having the resources to launch their own activities. They can step out of the working groups if they are not satisfied, without changing the process or the results. It is perhaps time to rethink the role they play. Overall, the training exposed me to the different perspectives of the Social Partners, which for me is important to understand.

Vladislav Caminschi, National Confederation of Employers, Moldova

©ILO/Márton Kovács

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Vladislav Caminschi, I work as Executive Director of the National Confederation of Employers in Moldova (CNPM). We are a lobby organization, catering to the needs of our members. They come to us with their problems and we try to find solutions, negotiate with authorities to overcome these issues.

What are the labour market challenges in Moldova?

At this time, we are engaged in addressing the differential regulatory treatment of the private and public medical institutions, the high level of local taxes and the duration of child care leave. We work on bringing demand and supply in the technical education system closer, including the abilities and knowledge of the graduates. The unfair competition in transportation sector, a result of the high informality in Moldova (30% in 2016) is a concern to us.  CNPM members face an acute shortage of workers, as higher wages abroad trigger labour migration. We participate in the mechanism of social dialogue as members of the tripartite commission, promoting the interests of our members at this platform.

How long have you been collaborating with the ILO?

We have been partners with the ILO since the establishment of our organization in 1996. Together we implemented a ground-breaking project on the eradication of child labour in the agriculture sector, where it used to be most prevalent of all the sectors. Responding to our advocacy, the Ministry of Labour decided not to allow schools to send students to work in agriculture while they study—with that decision, we practically put an end to the practice of child labour in Moldova. We also collaborated on creating a conducive environment for enterprises, first by conducting a survey and producing a report (Enabling Environments for Sustainable Enterprises)(EESE)  with recommendations. We are seeing results in the reduction of fiscal burdens, deburocratisation of labour relations and a more efficient state control on enterprises. We are in the 2nd phase of EESE now, working in a tripartite manner by exploring with employers and employees what the business killers are and how they perceive the efficiency of the last business stimulating initiatives.

What is the current focus of your work?

For us, the future of work is a great dilemma and our members are concerned about it, too. We aim to promote a new labour code which tackles new forms of work, new forms of contracts and labour relations. Another issue of great topical relevance for us is reducing the informal economy in the country. Our aim is to decrease the cash payment of salaries replacing them by bank transfers. We have done extensive work with specific sectors i.e. private medical institutions that could not perform cancer treatments because of the state monopoly. After CNPM involvement, the monopoly was terminated.   We worked on transportation tariffs, which have not been updated for years despite the ever-rising fuel prices. Also, we achieved that the minimum living standard became tax exempt. Throughout our work with the Ministry, we strive to bring in new subjects for discussion and highlight the economic component of questions in the tripartite commission.

How do you think you benefitted from the training? What were the most valuable elements for you?

The seminar taught us a lot about measuring effectiveness.  It also helped in digging deeper into issues to be able to see what the core problems are. From that point, finding the right solution is not far away at all.