• 2014-03-01
  • |  Kikinda

Same Business, Same Responsibilities

The "Black and White" campaign has gained in strength with five additional local initiatives. We would like to present the "Invisible Worker" project by the "Artesa" Woman’s Association.

The "Black and White" campaign has gained in strength with five additional local initiatives. We would like to present the "Invisible Worker" project by the "Artesa" Woman’s Association. 

The project’s main objective is to raise the awareness of the public regarding the importance of workers’ rights for individuals who work in illegal (undeclared) businesses, as well as the necessity of the inclusion of these businesses in legal market trends. To this end, we will also make an effort to include more associations in the territory of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, to begin to address this issue. The informal economy takes a 30% bite out of our GDP (data published by the Ministry of Economy). For these individuals employed in this zone, the strict legal framework that defines the rules of occupational H&S does not apply. 

Does health and life have a lesser value if you are employed in the shadow economy? 

Inspections hardly deal with this issue; these employment posts are invisible in the eyes of the law and the state. As a consequence, the workers employed in these posts are invisible. These individuals do not have adequate safety equipment, defined working hours, insurance, nor is their pay guaranteed. They cannot even dream of receiving a retirement fund, vacation time or maternity leave. 

The inspection agencies, for the most part claim they are not responsible for the supervision of illegal employers. In the rare occasions where they admit that they do in fact hold jurisdiction over these individuals, the only action taken on their part is to inform the public that they do not know where to seek out these illegal employers and insist the public report them, in order for further action to be taken. 

Nevertheless, public awareness regarding this issue is low and the reaction of the general public here is to turn a blind eye to the situation. As a result, at least 30% of the GDP, and at least as much of the workforce remains outside the boundaries of the law. 

It is our intention to tell the life stories of these workers, first and foremost by interviewing them, by printing brochures filled with their statements, by launching a Facebook campaign, and publicly advocating for them. 

The "Artesa" Woman’s Association, through the promotion of workers' rights, has witnessed automatic improvement in economic conditions, in general. On condition that similar activities be permanently and continually organised, the whole of society would feel the benefits. An increase in tax revenues and the return of funds into legal channels would achieve better funding and functioning of the health sector, education sector, the pension fund, etc. BENEFICIAL TO ALL, except the selfish personal interests of illegal employers. 

The "Artesa" Woman’s Association is comprised of mainly female entrepreneurs. It was founded with the goal of influencing the development of entrepreneurial conditions in the Municipality of Kikinda territory. With this goal in mind, it organises training in reviving traditional crafts and training for beginner entrepreneurs, it cooperates with the local government and all organisations which are potential partners on the road to creating a better entrepreneurial climate at the local level. Their mission is to preserve the culture associated with traditional crafts and in doing so preserve the national culture these crafts represent. Additionally, this association aids already-registered entrepreneurs to engage in professional development and in turn, further develop their businesses. 

Our activities have been financially supported to date by: the Ministry of Labour and Social Issues (the Department of Gender Equality), the Provincial Secretariat for Labour, Employment and Gender Equality, the National Agency for Regional Development, the Municipality of Kikinda, etc.