On 27 September 2016, EFEE and ETUCE invited the national Serbian teacher unions and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Development to take part in the last round table meeting of the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education (ESSDE) capacity building project II. The Teacher Union of Serbia (TUS), the Nezavisnost Teachers Trade Union (NTTU), the Union of Workers in Education, and the representative from the Serbian Ministry of Education discussed around a table on the most pressing educational issues in Serbia and on how to set a successful social dialogue. The successful round table meeting was supported by the education social partners from Slovenia, who could share their national experience and by ETUCE and EFEE representatives.

This last meeting was characterized by high productivity and was considered by participants as a first step towards the reviving of an effective and autonomous social dialogue in education.
ETUCE and EFEE received valuable information on the status of the social dialogue in Serbia, its main challenges, the funding of education and teachers’ working conditions. Proposals on how to improve the national social dialogue were raised. Mr Marinčić, representing the Ministry of Education, took note of the current working conditions of teachers, their salaries, their opportunities for continuous professional development, and of the unions’ work. Both the delegations agreed that severe cuts in public investment in education could jeopardise the quality of public education in Serbia. As a candidate country to join the EU, references were made to the negotiation process between the country and the European Union. Participants learned about the European Social Dialogue in Education, its outcome and the process.

Sandi Modrjian from the Education, Science and Culture Trade Union of Slovenia (ESTUS) and Barbara Novinec, President of the National Principal Association of Pre-Schools of Slovenia, outlined the major challenges they are facing in Slovenia with regards to their dialogue, education and training reforms, investments shortages as a consequence to the strict budgetary constraints of the European Semester, and collective bargaining. The Slovenian example provided the Serbian delegation of education trade unions and employer organisation with good basis for discussion and exchange.

Closing the round table, Mr Marinčić, stated a strong interest from the Ministry of Education to set a more effective institutional framework for the Serbian social dialogue. He invited the education trade unions to meet shortly again for a preparatory meeting in order to lay the basis for an effective and autonomous social dialogue. Valentina Ilic, President of TUS, welcomed the invitation to revive the education social dialogue in Serbia, and accepted the invitation from the Ministry to share views on how to organise it more effectively. She underlined the importance of the lessons learnt from the past, and that mutual trust, as well as good intention, are crucial steps towards success. Eventually, she pledged for further cooperation between the teacher unions of Serbia.