SWAM held the first Cross sector meeting on December 15th 2016, in Podgorica, within the regional project „Increasing capacities and strengthening of the role of the regional CSOs for improvement of the labour conditions and labour dialogue with public institutions“.
The purpose of the meeting was to identify the issues within the area of safety and health at work in Montenegro from the employees’ point of view, as well as the role of the media in creating preventive culture, when it comes to safety and health at work. Participants at the meeting were representatives of trade union organizations, CSO’s and the media. The president of SWAM Zdenko Jankovic has signed the Memorandum of understanding with the general secretaries of USSCG (The Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro) Srdjan Kekovic and SSCG (Federation of Trade Unions of Montenegro) Dusko Zarubica.
We hereby expect this to lead to a closer cooperation between SWAM and the trade unions, encouragement of the dialogue on the improvement of labour conditions, as well as raising common awareness of the importance of professional practice and common activities in the education of employers and employees when it comes to safety and health at work.
During the meeting, the representatives of the trade unions stated many problems in this area. They reminded us about the fatal accidents on various construction sites, the iron works of Niksic, the arms factory in Mojkovac, as well as the inhuman conditions in KAP, etc. Representatives from the Trade Union of Civil Engineering and IGM, focused on the fact that a great amount of workers lose their lives, although it’s mostly those workers who are working illegally, who have neither undergone a training, nor does their employer use any safety measures, so cases like these never get recorded. They also claimed to have a very bad cooperation with some employers, for example the builders of the highway, the Chinese CRBC, who hasn’t allowed any visits to the construction site for one year and seven months.
Representatives from The Union of power energy system have specified that their employers do hard and dangerous jobs, followed by a major pressure from the public. In the case of a malfunction, everyone wants the damage to be corrected as soon as possible, so the employees often work in 24-hour-shifts, without any instructions or protective gear, which leads to fatal outcomes.
The other attendees agreed on the fact that the legal obligations aren’t always applied, which causes injuries at work. The biggest issue, as they mentioned though, is the low level of knowledge in this area, which leads to the final conclusion that a continuous education of both employees and employers is needed in Montenegro.
When the meeting was to be organized, the biggest problem was to include the media to actively join the meeting. In most cases, they showed no interest in this topic, nor did they see their role in creating preventive politics when it comes to safety and health at work. Some representatives of the media even asked for a monetary compensation, in order to discuss this topic.
Despite these problems, the meeting was attended by representatives from the Public service, the media, the Association of journalists of Montenegro, as well as different radio stations and portals. They were all aware of the fact that their role in creating public awareness is huge, when it comes to safety and health at work. They also showed willingness to do television and radio programs about this issue, but unfortunately came to a conclusion, that it would be hard to do so. One of the crucial reasons is the fact that employees are often afraid of getting fired, which makes it almost impossible for them to speak out publicly about their or their colleagues’ work related injuries.
The representatives of the media also suggested that SWAM could submit reports on the recorded injuries and fatal accidents at work, as well as its own point of view of the concrete situation.
The final conclusion of all the attendees at the meeting was that education in all levels is highly needed when it comes to safety and health at work in Montenegro, and that the education should already be practiced in kindergartens and elementary schools, followed by high schools and universities.
The attendees showed interest in becoming familiar with the results of the following cross sector meetings, which representatives of employers or public institutions will be attending. We will have a real picture of the situation in safety and health at work in Montenegro after the meetings.
We expect at that time to detect the causes why:
- Only 4 % of employers in MNE own the Act of risk assessment
- Only a small number of employees is informed about the existence of the Law about safety and health at work
- Employees are often not interested to implement safety measures
- Employers are not interested to implement safety measures at work