2020 was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many regulations adopted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, at all levels, largely related to the regulation of the condition caused by the coronavirus pandemic, i.e., mitigation of the consequences of the pandemic and regulation of the way of life and work in the new situation.
It is important to point out that in 2020, the Law on Occupational and Health Safety in the Federation of BiH was finally adopted, which has been worked on since 2012. Various issues and problems related to occupational safety and regulation of rights and obligations of workers and employers regarding working conditions, risk assessment, introduction of preventive measures, adoption of individual regulations by employers and others have been opened.
The Economic and Social Council of the Federation of BiH also held regular sessions. Nevertheless, it is difficult to conclude that the dialogue between the social partners was at a satisfactory level and that it provided the expected results. This is especially due to the fact that the Government and the Association of Employers have close cooperation and support each other in initiating changes to regulations, which are largely to the detriment of workers, especially workers in the real sector. In addition, unions work in difficult conditions. Divided without mutual respect and understanding with regard to the specifics of each branch, they do not have a common position to act and provide significant resistance to the Government and the Association of Employers. For the third year in a row, we have divisions within the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of BiH, the service of the Confederation is not in function.
Through the work of ESC, solidarity and mutual support of the other two partners can be noticed, so that the unions make additional efforts in the work of ESC, trying to maintain continuity of work and give adequate resistance and protect the interests of workers.
At the beginning of the year, the Government of the Federation of BiH, the Association of Employers of FBiH and the Trade Union, continued with the implementation of planned activities. At the meetings of the Economic and Social Council held in January and February 2020, at the initiative of trade union representatives, the minimum wage in the Federation of BiH was determined and analysis of the proposed methodology on how to determine the minimum wage for the next period in accordance with the Labor Law, the General Collective Agreement for the territory of the Federation of BiH and branch collective agreements. Also, they raised the issue of amendments to the Regulation on Employment in the Public Sector in the Federation of BiH, believing that it is an obstacle to adequate redistribution of workers within public companies.
With the appearance of the coronavirus in the Federation of BiH and the worsening of the epidemiological situation, the Government of the Federation of BiH passed the Decision on the state emergency in the Federation of BiH on March 16, 2020 (at the 214th thematic session). At the same session, the Government adopted a series of recommendations for employers and workers with the aim of preventing the spread of coronavirus, namely: special measures to protect workers, reorganization of working hours, remote work (work from home), use of annual leave, in case, both parents work, cancellation of official trips and meetings. Also, the document “COVID-19 case management and ensuring the continuity of health services-community transfer” was adopted, which was previously adopted at the session of the Crisis Headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Health, which represents additional problems in the work of trade unions.
Decisions and decrees necessary for timely action and securing the necessary financing in the use of earmarked funds were also adopted (Decision on approving the schedule and use of the Federal Administration for Civil Protection of earmarked revenues above the amounts planned in the Budget of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina for 2020; on conditions and manner of use of funds realized on the basis of special compensation for protection against natural and other disasters; Decree on amendment of the Decree on organization of protection and rescue services of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina).
At the session of the ESC, which was held immediately after the declaration of the state of emergency, on March 19, 2020, a team of representatives of the FBiH Government, the Association of Employers of FBiH and the Trade Union was formed to find ways to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic in the labor sector. The chair of the working team was Minister Edita Đapo.
During the state of emergency in the FBiH, a continuity of dialogue between the representatives of the Government, Employers and Trade Unions was maintained. However, sessions and consultative meetings which were imposed by representatives of the Association of Employers with the intention of using the situation and hastily passing amendments to the Labor Act and the Employees’ Council Act, and passing other regulations in their own interest.
The government and the Association of Employers of FBiH tried to impose the story of concluding a tripartite agreement that would “regulate” the rights and obligations of workers during a pandemic, which is contrary to the Labor Law. As the proposal was not accepted by the representatives of the Trade Union, the Government imposed a proposal for the urgent adoption of the Law on Amendments to the Labor Law. There was a lot of pressure on the representatives of the Trade Unions, putting them in a very unenviable position and conditioning them by concluding branch collective agreements if they do not accept the dialogue regarding the amendment of the Labor Law.
Information on laws and other regulations in the Federation of BiH for 2020 can be downloaded HERE.
The document “Information regarding the regulations adopted during the proclamation and duration of the state of natural or other disasters in the territory of BiH” which lists all documents adopted by various levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and are exclusively related to regulation of life and work during the coronavirus pandemic is available HERE.