On 16 December, EU TACSO 3 project organized an on-line P2P national event for Bosnia and Herzegovina on the topic “Collaboration between Trade Unions and Civil Society Organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. The aim of the event was to explore effective cooperation between CSOs and unions, initiate potential collaboration between CSOs and unions to advocate for changes of legislation, and explore regional experience of CSOs and unions cooperation to find the best possible approaches in BiH context.

Mrs. Tanja Hafner Ademi, Team Leader of the EU TACSO 3 project, presented the agenda of the event and invited participants to discuss and share successful practices of cooperation between civil society and trade union sector at the national level in the context of joint activities in promotion and advocacy for labour rights. This P2P event served as a platform for sharing experiences and to learn from experts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro. Also, to connect participants and to initiate new collaboration and actions of trade unions and CSOs in the future period, as the need of raising awareness of labour rights rises.

During the introductory session, participants had the opportunity to hear general overview of the relationship between trade Unions and CSO’s with a focus on differences/similarities in their operational work and potential prejudices in understanding. Also, event hosted panelists, experts from Western Balkan region countries, Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia, who presented legal frameworks and positive stories from the practical work in their countries. Event facilitator also presented experiences in work in Europe and globally. Session content brought very productive discussion and interest between participants at the very beginning of the event.

The second session was dedicated to the role of CSOs and trade unions in promotion and protection of labour rights within current relevant legislation in BiH on labour rights and challenges in its implementation. Participant had opportunity to hear experiences from Bosnia and Herzegovina in terms of actions conducted in the area of the rights of the workers in garment industry. Panellist from BiH presented results from the outreach work conducted by interviews within workers in fashion industry in BiH by CSOs and trade unions. This was the main session which aimed to bring discussion and potential actions in the future collaboration especially in terms of the complexed structure in BiH society. Participants raised question about different legal framework in trade union’s authority in BiH which is very often procedural obstacle. Their conclusion and potential solution for improvement of worker’s rights in BiH is giving more authority to CSOs in the process of advocacy. 

At the end of the event, experts and participants defined further steps for cooperation of CSOs and trade union participants. They agreed that long path of work is in front of them in the future and joint collaboration is crucial for effective results. Also, help from other Balkan region countries should be accepted and applied in BiH context. Some of the conclusions and recommendations at the end of the event were the following:

  • Cooperation already exists, but there is room for improvement, both quantitatively and qualitatively;
  • Provide space for better cooperation on educational programs – education of CSOs on trade union work and organization, as a basis for better cooperation, education of workers in general on workers’ rights and education of younger trade union members and trade union commissioners on trade union issues, but also the potential for cooperation with civil society;
  • Popularization of the trade union movement – there is great potential for improving the reputation of trade unions in general through the activities of CSOs;
  • Joint work on the promotion of better minimum, ie decent wages (wages for life);
  • Joint work on the topic of freedom of trade union organization;
  • The conclusion is also that the best way is to develop cooperation on specific topics, even “small” (such as unpaid break in the Federation).