New wave of CBAs sweep Bosnia and Herzegovina

As a result of the joint efforts of BWI affiliates in Bosnia and Herzegovina, several branch collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) were successfully signed by trade unions and employers this year.

One of these is the CBA signed on 21 September by the Independent Trade Union of Forestry, Wood and Paper Processing BiH and the Association of Employers of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina – UPFBiH. 

The CBA, which came into force on 29 September 2021 for a period of one year, covers 17,500 workers (8,000 workers in wood processing, 1,900 in paper and 7,600 in furniture). It provides for a 25 percent increase in the workers’ hourly rate and clearly defines the lowest hourly wage which is BAM 2.90 (EUR 149).

The new CBA states that the lowest minimum salary covering an average 176 work hours/per month (40 hours/per week) is BAM 510 (EUR 260.75). Adding the meal allowances, transportation and regress that workers shall also receive based on the CBA, the minimum wage in the industry now stands at BAM 750-800 (EUR 383-409). This is a major development in an industry where average salaries are usually low, pegged at only BAM 540 -625 per month.  

The CBA also increased the pay for overtime work, night work, rest day work and holiday work by 30 percent, 35 percent, 30 percent and 40 percent, respectively. The salary supplement under difficult working conditions, meal and transport benefits were also increased, with the possibility of also increasing the number of annual leaves which currently stands at 21 days. The agreement also allows workers in the wood and paper industries to enjoy allowances for years of work. 

Several innovations were also introduced by the agreement, such as the regularisation of work outside the employer's premises (either at the worker's home or another space provided by the employer) for jobs that are not dangerous and/or harmful to the health of workers, and endanger the work environment. 

Meanwhile, on 12 October, the SSSPDPBIH also successfully concluded a CBA with the management of the Middle Bosnia Forest (Srednjobosanske sume / Sume Sredisnje Bosne Ltd.). This is part of the bigger efforts to negotiate better working conditions and terms with the public canton-level forest companies. 

SSSPDPBIH President Lejla Ćatić said that the signing of the branch CBAs is extremely important for workers in the sector. He reminded everyone that crucial to the implementation of the agreement is cooperation among stakeholders and diligence in labour inspection. 

The signing of the new CBAs was possible due to a joint platform for social dialogue established last 9 June between six industrial unions and the Association of Employers of the Federation of BiH to determine the minimum hourly wages in the state, among other concerns. 

The social dialogue aims to build and preserve mutual trust, particularly on collective bargaining negotiations. It also wants to develop joint approaches to compel government institutions to address the decent work deficit in the industry and the negative developments on the labour market influenced by dramatic demographical changes and shortage of skilled work force.