SEE TU Forum Policy discussion meeting on the global economic crises, Podgorica, 27 of February 2009

The SEE Trade Union Forum, with the support of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the LO – TCO Sweden, held an extraordinary meeting on 27 of February 2009, in Podgorica, Montenegro. Some 20 trade union leaders and experts from the countries of South Eastern Europe, representatives of the PERC, FES Regional office in Belgrade and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Montenegro discussed the impact of the global economic crises in the SEE region and wider context and the Trade Union responses in the SEE countries.

The aims of the meeting was to outline the key challenges resulting from the pressures of the current crisis on the economies and societies in the South Eastern Europe countries, their specific dimensions but also the more general drivers of the events in the European and global contexts. On that basis the participants exchanged opinions and considerations about possible trade union approaches and strategic opportunities, particular instruments and ideas to safeguard the rights and interests of working people through the crisis but also to lay the foundations for substantial changes in the way economies and societies are run.
The Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Montenegro, Mr. Igor Lukšić gave a presentation on the impact of the global economic crises in Montenegro and the Government response, highlighting the importance of social dialogue as a key instrument in building the necessary consensus on issues related to employment and economic and social developments.
He informed the participants on the measures that the Government has undertaken in order to keep financial stability and economic growth in the years to come.. He expressed on behalf of the Government full support and commitment to the further development of social dialogue in Montenegro and regional cooperation.

Ms. Ana Knezevic, president of UATUC and Vice president of the PERC and ITUC gave a presentation on the Global Unions High-Level discussions with the IMF and the WB on the global economic and financial crises, held on 12 – 16 of January 2009, in Washington. She informed the participants about the meeting with the WB representatives on the WB projects which focused particularly on the position and rights of women in a number of countries over the world. She also outlined the key issues that were discussed during the meeting with the IMF and WB representatives devoted to the financial and economic crises.

She informed the SEE TU Forum on the current changes the social security systems (health, pension, etc.) in Croatia and the new ideas of the WB that countries under economic and social reforms should consider the introduction of a five pillar pension system.

Mr. Grigor Gradev presented the ETUC and ITUC responses on the Global economic crises pointing out the preparation of the ITUC and the ETUC for the next Summit of the G20, that will be held on 4 of April 2009, in London and the work done during and after the last G20 summit, held in November 2008, in Washington.

The SEE TU Forum member organizations gave short reports on the impact of economic crises and financial crises on the company performance/taxation, social protection systems, on labour relations (dismissal of workers), banking system stability and credit loans and the present public image of the Trade Unions.

A press conference with the participation of Ms. Ana Kenezvice, chairperson of the SEE TU Forum, Mr. Veselin Vujanovic, general secretary of CTUM and the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Montenegro was organized. Around 20 journalists appeared and there was a good coverage of the event in the electronic and printing media.

The SEE TU Forum made following conclusions and recommendations:
1. The development of tripartite and bipartite social dialogue in the countries of SEE needs to be strengthened as a real form of dialogue where each side discuss the matters of common concern based on arguments and mutual respect with the aim of building consensus. The financial and economic crises gives an opportunity in making the actors in social dialogue sensible for a genuine social dialogue.

2. The Trade Union organizations in the SEE region need to be fully involved in the supervision and control of the measures undertaken by the Government on the consequences of the economic crises.

3. It is necessary that the Government policies and measures in the region include employment policies that will keep the employment trough the creation of new and better jobs.

4. The Trade Unions will pay special attention to the developments in the banking sector in the region.

5. The SEE TU Forum member organizations will insist on the reduction of the company profits and salaries of the company managers requesting that these funds should be invested into the vocational training of workers.

6. The SEE TU Forum members demand better and regular contacts and consultations with the IMF, EBRD and the WB in the countries of the region on issues related to the reforms of the social security systems, for instance on the pension system reforms, initiated by the World Bank, which resulted into a fact that today more pensioners leave in poverty than before the mentioned reforms. The ITUC and the PERC will be informed about the lack of consultations of the IFIs with the Trade Unions. The ITUC PERC is asked to provide its political support and expertise on this matter.

7. The EU integration processes of the Western Balkan countries should be continued and the role of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) should be strengthened in promoting regional cooperation and the different initiatives in the region. The SEE TU Forum is asking the Regional Cooperation Council to assist in the organization of a joint meeting with the Adriatic Region Employers’ Centre (AREC) in 2009 on social dialogue.

8. The SEE Trade Union Forum agreed to organize the next ordinary meeting on 7-8 of April 2009, in Zagreb, Croatia. The General Secretary of the PERC, brother John Monks and president of PERC, brother Mikhael Shmakov, will be invited to the meeting, as well as, Prof. Vladimir Gligorov, economist, from the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies.

Jasmin Redžepović
SEE Trade Union Forum

ITUC circular on crisis
ITUC 4 GC doc on crisis
GU meeting in IFI
ETUC SC doc on crisis
TU G20 statement
GU statement BSCM
ETUC statement BSCM
ITUC circular BSCM
GU statement Al
ITUC GC statement Al
ETUC statement Al
ITUC circular Al