Meeting of SEE trade union economists:“Trade union approaches and strategic opportunities in combating corruption”

At the SEE TU Forum meeting, held in Sarajevo on 9–10 November 2010, trade union leaders emphasized the interest to have at the agenda some important issues in their societies, which are the requirement for social stability and economic development. The problem of corruption is a hot issue in all these countries, and the trade unions want to develop an approach and a possibility to have a more active role in fighting the corruption.

Thus, the PERC organized an extraordinary meeting of SEE Economic Experts “Trade union approaches and strategic opportunities in combating corruption”. The third meeting of the SEE TU Economists Network was held in KOTOR, December 9 -10, 2010, attended by TU economic experts from Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. The meeting was organized by ITUC/ PERC SEE Office, and financially supported by LO-TCO, LO-Norway and ITUC Solidarity Fund.

The aim of the meeting was to develop TU approaches to understanding corruption; to increase SEE TU capacities for fighting corruption; to set up the TU Working Group on anticorruption in the South Eastern Europe countries; to exchange opinions and considerations about possible trade union approaches and strategic opportunities.

It is interesting to note that the meeting was held at the International day of anticorruption which was a stimulating factor for the participants. Prof. Bruno Sergi, as the mentor of the Network of economic experts, presented certain figures and he gave his professional comments in reference to the opinions and positions of the trade unions experts. He said that there is not a unique recipe in fighting the corruption; that all countries face this problem; and also that the trade unions must take more active role in fighting corruption, that they have to make a short-term and long-term plan in fighting the unemployment, poverty, and corruption. The long-tem plan is related with the EU integrations. Trade unions experts presented figures on the issue of corruption with a huge enthusiasm, and they also gave their comments, positions, and proposals for the trade unions to take a more active role in fighting the corruption, which is one of the worst illnesses of the society. Grigor Gradev, PERC Executive Secretary talked about how to develop a TU approaches to understanding corruption - Combating corruption through law enforcement. He said that TU Balkan Forum has started dealing with this issue long time ago through the Stability Pact, and that there were some positive outcomes / especially in Croatia /, and yet that not much has been done. It is the time now to set the rules and design policies which would allow trade unions to engage in control of public finances and pursue corporative social responsibility.

Problem of corruption in SEE countries – common characteristics:

1. Problem of corruption, which affects the development of any country, has been the subject of many researches and studies by i.e. Transparency International, World Bank, UNDP, EU.
2. Research results of public opinion on corruption are similar in majority of the countries. Unemployment, poverty, low wages, and corruption remain the most important social problems.
3. Institutions, which the citizens hold the most corrupt, are political parties, judiciary, health, education, and governments.
4. As for the anticorruption laws, the citizens are extremely pessimistic – majority does not believe in efficiency of these laws.
5. Rule of law, respect for legal norms, and severe punishments would be, in the opinion of the majority, the most efficient in preventing corruption. Building strong and fair state institutions (Government, police, judiciary, Agency for fighting corruption), which offer concrete results would increase the level of trust among the citizens. Strengthening of the public awareness related to this issue, especially in media, would also be important for reduction of level of corruption.
6. The countries do have their Agencies for fighting corruption, but there is a small number of those who believe in these bodies and their capacities to stop the corruption in SEE countries.
7. The negative socio-political climate pi e society reflect a complexity of the problem and difficulties in solving those.
8. The Trade union action plans have not dealt so far with the topic “Fighting the corruption”.

Experts indicated that it is important for trade unions to have political courage, and the good will to engage in fighting corruption, fighting corruption in public acquisitions, and also to focus on strengthening of rule of law.

Future steps and activities of SEE Economic Experts Network:

1. Network members will continue developing direct contacts and communication, exchange experiences and ideas, and it would be good to create an internet forum which was already discussed in the previous meeting in Sarajevo;
2. The Network should continue working on trade union national and regional strategies in fighting corruption; 2 meetings should be organized in 2011;
3. The attempt should be made to organize Regional Agency for fighting corruption /see with RCC/ and initiate anti-crisis measures against unemployment and poverty;
4. Experts will design national reports on corruption – deadline: May 2011; next meeting should be organized then.
5. Second national report on the topic “Labor market, flexibility, and poverty” should be completed by November 2011, which should be followed by the second meeting in 2011.

Reported by:

Enisa Salimović,
ITUC/PERC SEE Office Sarajevo

corruption in Serbia
anti-corruption Macedonia
B.Sergi SEE corruption
Nezavisnost presentation