Post of Serbia workers rejected the government’s salary increase proposal yesterday. A large number of employees of this profitable company currently earn wages closer to the minimum wage than the average earnings in the republic.
At a meeting hosted by the government yesterday afternoon the workers were offered a 13% increase of the lowest wages, which about 12,500 workers receive.
After the meeting, the workers’ negotiating team went to the Main Postal Centre in Zemun, where they presented the offer in front of several hundred assembled colleagues, the vast majority of whom rejected the government’s offer.
The workers’ negotiating team then returned to the evening meeting with the government to convey the decision of the colleagues they represent. The workers’ request was again submitted, which implies that employees of Post technology (technicians in post centers, postmen, drivers, counters) have a minimum wage of 50,000 dinars (425 €).
A new meeting between the negotiating teams of the government, the Post’s management and workers has not been scheduled, but there are indications that it could be held today.
More work and less pay
Željko Arsić, a worker at the Zemun MPC and one of the representatives of the workers in strike, explained and clarified his colleagues’ demands for Mašina.
There has been no increase in real earnings in the Post of Serbia for seventeen years. Another interesting fact is that in 2011, the average salary in Serbia was about 35,000 dinars (297 €), and a Post employee was earning about that amount. Now the national average is 54,000 (459 €), while we are stuck at the same 35,000 dinars. We are now closer to the minimum wage than to the average.
It is not entirely clear why would workers in a successful company, which increases the volume of work and makes a profit, have such low earnings. Arsić comments on this paradox using the example of his work unit – the Zemun Main Postal Centre:
We had 423,000 shipments in September 2016 and 847,000 shipments in September 2019. So, for us who do the technical processing of shipments, the volume of work doubled in three years, and in the same period the number of workers in our department was reduced by seven, Arsić told Mašina.
As he says, the shortage of employees in the Post of Serbia is obvious everywhere.
Everyone is aware of it. You enter a post office, and you see that there are seven counters, of which there are only two working, and that results in forming crowds and lines. Postmen cover two districts at a time, although one person can’t manage to carry all that; and at the same time his amount of work increases because of various utility bills that are sent by mail.
Back in March, during negotiations with the government’s representative, Nebojša Stefanović, one of the workers’ demands was that a sufficient number of employees for executing different tasks be provided, which could be done if the Post of Serbia hired the people who now engaged on temporary agreements as permanently employed.
The government and the Post of Serbia management have not yet fulfilled this demand, nor have they increased the workers’ wages.
Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić
This article was originally published in Serbian on Dec 9, 2019.