The power of Social Responsibility – The state, business and the public together in the protection of economic and social rights (2007-2008)


In 2007 and 2008, the Foundation Centre for Democracy conducted an extensive campaign, launched in 10 cities throughout Serbia which goal was to promote and raise awareness on the importance of respecting and protecting the economic and social rights of workers, particularly in the area of employment, labour and employee-employer relationships, as well as highlighting their importance for democratic and sustainable development. Since the campaign, which was implemented throughout 2009, the Foundation has focused on improving the actualisation of these rights, firstly, through the improvement of the legal framework. Proposed amendments to the Labour Act in areas related to non-contractual work and overtime were suggested, as well as the quicker adoption of the Law on Mobbing. 

The campaign was aimed at the public, business and civil society sector (first and foremost at trade unions, NGOs and the media), as well as at workers themselves and the public in general. The set objectives were as follows: 

  • Initiating public debates on the necessity of modifying some of the articles in the Labour Act which would prevent or substantially reduce undeclared work and unpaid overtime. 
  • Faster adoption of the Law on Mobbing.
  • Encouraging NGOs to be invest more of an effort in worker issues. 
  • Greater involvement of workers in the fight for their rights. 
  • Increasing accountability and commitment of the business sector in respecting workers’ rights, as well as encouraging companies to adopt an ethical business codex. 
  • More intensive and better quality collaboration with the public sector. 
  • This campagin was implemented together with a Coalition of NGOs which was comprised of the Centre for Advanced Legal Studies from Belgrade, the Civil Society Development Centre Protecta from Niš, Millenium from Kragujevac, Alternative Parliament from Paraćin, the Local Democracy Agency from Subotica, NGO Centre from Zrenjanin, the Human Rights Committee from Kruševac, Užice Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, Lingua from Kraljevo and Vojvodina Centre for Human Rights from Novi Sad. 

Key results: 

  • A survey was carried out at 500 companies in Serbia within the framework of respecting workers’ rights 
  • A Code of Business Ethics was prepared and offered to the business sector for adoption. 
  • Amendments to the Labour Act were prepared and presented to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy as well as to Members of Parliament of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.
  • Obtained the support of all participants in the six round tables held on the necessity of amendments to the Labour Act.
  • 10 ads and 10 expert texts were published in leading daily newspapers. 
  • Approximately 100 testimonials from the general public were collected from all over Serbia on concerning the violations of their rights. These testimonials were published in a brochure entitled "Respecting workers’ Rights – confirmation of a law abiding country." 
  • A documentary film concerning economic and social rights was emitted through 8 different TV stations throughout Serbia, with viewer ratings of over 500,000. 
  • A national conference was held entitled "Economic and social rights in Serbia" which was opened by the Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Božidar Đelić. 
  • Throughout the campaign 6000 leaflets and 2500 brochures were distributed, 1000 posters and 25 wallscapes were put up within view of public transportation routes, dozens of billboards were placed all over Serbia, and 431 radio ads were emitted! 

The project was aided by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC).