Strengthening social dialogue – shaping European integration

From 23 to 26 May 2018 took place in Skopje, FYR of Macedonia, a seminar within the framework of the EZA special project for workers' organizations in the Western Balkans "Strengthening social dialogue – shaping European integration". The seminar was organized by YHACM - UNASM - UIATUM (Union of Independent Autonomous Trade Unions of Macedonia), with the support of EZA and of the European Union. 49 representatives of workers’ organisations from Albania, Belgium, Croatia, Bulgaria, Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and guests from Kosovo participated in the seminar.

Aim of the project:

High quality and significant social dialogue based on active social partnership by forming a working group for the preparation of a cooperation memorandum of all independent trade unions in the region and beyond with the objective of having more quality activities for the improvement of workers’ rights, as well as the right to association (membership) to be exercised by unemployed, students, precarious workers, retired people and via this memorandum a change of the Labor code to be asked.

Only an approach that understands radical changes in the conscience and the behaviour of the social partners and actors will open the horizons that will enable giving relative and long-term acceptable solutions to the following problems:

  • How to make the inhumane forms of behaviour in the labour world a history
  • To find mechanisms, principles and indicators and practices of social partnership, open, brave and well-argued conversation where all participants will talk about the future and not about the past.

The programme of the seminar encompassed the following activities:

Presentation of the project and presentation of the commitments of EZA for strengthening the member organizations of EZA. It was also stated that the trade unions in Western Balkans should be further reinforced first and foremost due to the political developments that put a mark and make the work of the trade unions more difficult.

Mr. Slobodan Antovski, President of UNASM, duly noted that the representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy were informed and invited at the event, but they cancelled their attendance at the last moment, which says enough about the social dialogue quality in the country when one of the main parties did not feel the need to attend and give an opinion.

Presentation of EZA and future activities by Mr. Norbert Klein – Policy Officer for Education and Training. He said that EZA was challenged to work on the development of the social dialogue in the region. The programs are concluded on the basis of projects delivered by the members of EZA and then EZA further delivers them to the EU by which they are approved and are implemented depending on the projects of every member. Apart from trade unions EZA works with cultural organizations, research organizations and other. He stated the importance of the scientific researches because the results will be of great assistance for the policy-creation process. Mr. Klein said that in order to have a better social dialogue, it is needed for the standards to be fulfilled: trust, seriousness, binding elements, spirit for achieving together positive results.

Professor Konstantin Petkovski, PhD, University of St. Kliment of Ohrid- Faculty of Law- Bitola held a presentation on “Strengthening social dialogue in Republic of Macedonia according to the examples of EU countries”. Social dialogue is a method or tool for promoting social justice and is significant for achieving social and economic interest. The process incorporates the basic democratic principles and that is that the people can influence the decisions that are adopted and that their voice is heard. Furthermore, he presented several aspects of social dialogue and its application in the EU member states.

Successful structure and processes in the social dialogue context can enable a potential for solving important economic and social issues, will promote the social and industrial peace and stability and will assist in achieving the foreseen economic growth.

Representative Slavica Jaukovic, coordinator of branch union in Montenegro - Union of Independent trade Unions of Montenegro talked about finding mechanisms for good partnership relations between the social partners in Montenegro in accordance with the legislation and application of the EU norms.

Lazo Lekovic, representative of The Independent Union of informative, graphic and publishing activities in Montenegro appealed for greater involvement and more active participation of the media to increase their interest in joining the trade union movement and their participation in the social dialogue and highlighted that the problem of the media representation is to be found both in trade unions and in the media. Several presenters stated that there is a problem in the region with great division of the trade unions that do not work together.

Aleksandar Zagroov, Regional president of PODKREPA talked about the experiences and the activities that PODKREPA implements in terms of improvement of workers’ rights. He also mentioned that a lot of cities in Bulgaria depend on the malls constructed by multinational companies. He emphasized that trade unions have to change so that they can keep up with the current developments. Economic and Social Committee in Bulgaria is structured according to the EU model. It includes trade unions, employers and the government, as well as NGOs and experts.

Marjan Risteski, President of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Macedonia KSOM, stressed the importance of social dialogue, and building a quality social dialogue by the principles of equality and solidarity which are missing in the Western Balkan countries. He expressed gratitude to UNASM due to the initiative it started for cooperation between the trade unions. It can be said that there is a little bit of improvement compared to the situation with the previous government, since now all trade unions are included in the discussion.

Experiences from

-Dritan Korumi president of Union of Independent Trade Unions of health (BSPSH)

-Avnij Ajdini president of Union of Independent Trade Union of Kosovo (BSPK)

-Njegos Potezica President of Trade Union of Serbia CATUS

-Marija MARTINIC representative from NEZAVISNOST, Serbia

-Jadranko Vehar EUROFEDOP


Representatives of the other trade unions in the region supported the discussion of the previous presenters and confirmed the fact that social dialogue in the Western Balkans countries has progressed a bit, but the situation is more or less the same. There is no solidarity, no information provided by the governments and trade unions that are servants to the government, deteriorated situation of the workers, no safe jobs, the minimum wage is not respected in the private sector, unpaid overtime work and huge brain drain.

Bert from EUROFEDOP said that a certain balance should be achieved and for that to be achieved it is necessary for the social partners to sit together at the table. He greeted the idea for signing a memorandum cooperation, but, on the basis of that memorandum sectors should also be tackeled. The members of the trade unions from the Balkans thanked EZA for the work and for the training and education it provides which is of great use for them. He urged the trade unions to turn to ILO and to the Council of Europe that have a social charter and if necessary to use the Court of Justice since the countries of the Balkans are signatories of this charter.

Mile Boskov, President of Business Confederation of Macedonia said that all parties are to blame, because nobody takes any action, but all are talking about it. As a representative of the employers he thinks that we should talk with the partners about all important issues but we do not have trained lobbyists. “I don’t see representatives of trade unions in any parliamentary committee, except Divna that attends the Equal Opportunities Committee. The social charter is not discussed in the Republic of Macedonia.”


  1. The attendance of several participants from the EU will help the countries from the region to build a real model for high quality dialogue.
  2. The trade unions should prepare strategies and programs and to put efforts in acknowledging the needs of young people and directing the social resources towards meeting those needs.
  3. Strengthening the moral and spiritual values of the workers.
  4. Encouraging the workers to be members of trade unions.
  5. Commitment to respect the basic principles of trade unions: solidarity, equality, being human and social justice, equal possibilities for housing and care and protection of the family.
  6. Education of the members

In accordance with the strategic goals for improving the conditions on the labour market, the participants in this seminar have a task to dedicate to improve the possibilities both for men and women, to provide security and human dignity as well as decent employment and improvement of the social protection. The experiences and practices from the other countries will motivate us to move forward.