Report on the first successful
independent union action of ASI
Belgrade, 20th of June 2006.
Here is just a short report on the first successful independent
union action of ASI. Our union was contacted two weeks ago by the female worker Slavica K. from a fancy four stars Italian restaurant in Belgrade "Mamma Mia" (a place to which ministers from the government and judges of the high court go, also the place in which ex police minister was killed by his mafia buddies that he tricked in 1997). Slavica quited the job in "Mamma Mia", because of the constant bulling of the workers by the boss who is violent alcoholic. She and all other workers are working "on black" in that restaurant, meaning that they are not registered, and that benefits for social and health insurance are not being payed. On the day she quited the job, and came to pick up her salaries for the last month that she was working, drunken boss entered the restaurant and physically attacked her, accusing her (and all other workers) of steeling from him, and rejected paying her the money that she has earned.
Slavica's husband died during the bombing of Serbia in 1999, and her daughter, who she is living with, is in third month of pregnancy. She is in financial hardship, and the money that her boss didn't pay her (around 150 Euros) meant a lot for her. She found our propaganda sticker in the public transport and decided to give us a call. We talked to her, arranged a meeting where we introduced our union to her and agreed on a picketing action in front of the restaurant.
On Saturday, 10th of June, our union organized a picketing action and a protest in front of the "Mamma Mia" restaurant. We have printed leaflets calling people not to eat in this restaurant, explaining the situation and demanding that Slavica be payed her money. Around 20 members and supporters of Belgrade local group of ASI gathered in front of the restaurant, with flags and picketing leaflets, and delegate of the union was sent into the restaurant to present the demands to the boss. The delegate confronted the boss with our demands, and after some fifteen minutes of yelling (while Minister of education of Serbian State and his family where in the restaurant, eating, faster than they ever did before), the boss who was scared of the possibility of our action taking place and making of a "scene" in his restaurant, agreed to payout the money he stole from our comrade. Therefore, picketing action was not needed at the time, and our members and sympathizers left the place.
There are several effects of this action. First, our new member Slavica K. got her money back, and second, other workers from this restaurant witnessed our methods of work and are interested in creation of the union section of our organization in their restaurant. This second thing is still being discussed, but it is clear that in some way this action had a historical significance for the work of our union. Our protest also gathered a lot of support mails and telephone calls, including support letters from Kosovo and Macedonia, which is quite important for overcoming the nationalist divisions of the workers in Balkans, and is showing that proletariat internationalism is the only way the working people should go, contrary to what the ruling classes want.
It is important to notice that union organizing in private sector is nonexistent in Serbia, and it is almost impossible to hear of any union action in private enterprises in Serbia, and this is what is making our
victory even more important. We hope that we can make the name of our union in the private sector, and start growing there.