Serbia: Unite against the discrimination of cabin crew in Air Serbia!

2 Nov 2023

In recent months, the Central Union of Aeronautical Stewardesses and Stewards (JSSSV) of Serbia has faced an unprecedented challenge. The dedicated union activists, including the President of JSSSV, have come under immense pressure for their union activities within Air Serbia. This troubling situation arose after collective bargaining negotiations collapsed earlier this year, and management unsuccessfully interfered in the latest cabin crew union elections. As a result, the company initiated a campaign of intimidation against the union leadership and its members, eventually leading to the resignation of the cabin crew union leader.

The actions taken by the company have been deeply concerning. Legal measures were first pursued against the rightfully elected union leader. Now, the threat of severe demotions looms over cabin crew union members, who are being offered the unsustainable option of transferring to the contact centre. Such intimidation is unacceptable, particularly within a company that is primarily state-owned. We stand united in believing that such actions are undignified and must be challenged.

We call upon the international community to show solidarity with the JSSSV cabin crew at Air Serbia. The situation demands attention and action to protect the rights and dignity of these workers.

Our Message Is Clear:

1. Cease the Pressure and Intimidation: Air Serbia’s management must immediately cease any and all pressure and intimidation directed towards JSSSV union members. Workers should be free to exercise their rights without fear of reprisal.

2. Reinstate Colleagues: Management must reinstate colleagues who face demotion solely because of their union activity. A just workplace requires the fair treatment of all employees, regardless of their union affiliation.

3. Respect Social Dialogue and Collective Bargaining: Serbia, as a candidate country in the EU enlargement process, must uphold EU principles, including social dialogue and collective bargaining. These are essential elements of workers’ rights and must be respected.

4. Compliance with International Law: According to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, any abuse of fundamental labour rights by a state-owned or controlled company may constitute a violation of the state’s international law obligations. Such actions should be avoided at all costs.

5. Uphold Fundamental Rights: Freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and the right to be free from discrimination, including for union membership, are fundamental rights enshrined in core conventions and charters of international organizations such as the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Council of Europe (CoE). Serbia, as a full member of these organizations, must protect these rights.

We urge Air Serbia to create an environment where genuine social dialogue can flourish, rooted in mutual respect and goodwill. Additionally, we call upon the Serbian government to ensure that workers and social rights are upheld and respected within Air Serbia. As Serbia progresses on its path towards EU membership, adherence to international labour standards is not just a choice but a responsibility.

Together, through solidarity and commitment to workers’ rights, we can strive for a just and fair workplace at Air Serbia, where employees are treated with dignity and respect, and their voices are heard and valued.