ILO ESAP 2: Study visit to USA to improve dispute settlement system in Serbia

26 July 2023
ILO ESAP 2: Study visit to USA to improve dispute settlement system in Serbia

ILO ESAP 2: Study visit to USA to improve dispute settlement system in Serbia

With an aim to expand knowledge and identify possibilities for improvements and capacity-building, project “Ensuring adequate access to grievance mechanisms for the workers in automotive, electrical, and textile industry in Serbia” and Employment and Social Affairs Platform (ESAP) 2 organized study visit of the Agency for Peaceful Settlement of Labour Disputes of Serbia (RAMRRS) to the United States Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).

The visit was organized from June 25 to 30, 2023 and delegation included Ivica Lazović, Director of RAMRRS, Dragana Andonovska, Head of Legal Department at RAMRRS, Miloš Prokić, Advisor at RAMRRS, Jovan Protić, International Labour Organization (ILO) National Coordinator for Serbia and Jovana Spaić Erdeljan, ILO Project Manager. 

The FMCS is an independent agency whose mission is to preserve and promote labor-management peace and cooperation. Headquartered in Washington, DC the agency provides mediation and conflict resolution services to industry, government agencies and communities. The FMCS has been picked as a partner of choice for the RAMRRS’s study visit as it had directly contributed to its establishment some 18 years ago, introducing in Serbia the mechanism of alternative settlement of labour disputes.

“Our delegation had an opportunity to meet the FMCS Director, Mr Javier Ramirez, and get to know more details of organizational, structural, and strategic systems of agencies for alternative dispute resolution. The goal of the meeting was to study and compare systems of dispute resolutions in the USA and Serbia, identify benefits and good practices, as well as internal process development. After an introductory presentation on extensive legislation on alternative dispute resolutions in the USA, Director Ramirez openly shared the FMCS mission and vision, challenges they are faced with and ways in which they try to overcome them” said Ivica Lazović, Director of RAMRRS.

Along with this meeting, the RAMRRS delegation had an opportunity to speak with the FMCS Commissioners Beth Schindler and Walter Darr about end-to-end process, routing and assigning cases, evaluation work, performance management, outreach, and etc. Further meetings with mediators and arbitrators of the FMCS were also very productive and the delegation learned about many tools and technics that they are using.

In addition, delegation also met with the representatives of the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB), independent federal agency vested with the power to safeguard employees’ rights to organize, engage with one another to seek better working conditions, choose whether or not to have a collective bargaining representative negotiate on their behalf with their employer, or refrain from doing so.  During the meeting, delegation discussed topics of processes before NLRB, their best practice, assistance to union members in “elections” and other relevant topics.

At National Mediation Board (NMB), independent U.S. federal government agency that facilitates labour-management relations within the nation’s railroad and airline industries, delegation discussed topics such as process of mediation at NMB, their steps and jurisdiction.

The visit was finalised with the meeting with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that is responsible for enforcing federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person's race, colour, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetic information.

“This study visit was very beneficial and motivated us to make changes in several aspects of our work and organization. From strengthening our preventive role to reorganizing and managing dispute resolution processes, to implementing training and using technology in our work” said Lazović.

As a result of this study visit, RAMRRS will prepare Action Plan that will include implementation of the actions to improve its work.

Project “Ensuring adequate access to grievance mechanisms for the workers in automotive, electrical, and textile industry in Serbia” was supported by the ESAP 2. Both projects are working together to improve the effectiveness of the grievance mechanisms. This study visit is continuation of several capacity building events that ESAP 2 organised for the mediators in Serbia in cooperation with the RAMRRS.

ESAP 2 is a 4-year regional project funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the ILO.