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Challenges and solutions in German companies’ operations in Serbia

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German companies operating in Serbia are facing dissatisfaction among their workers, primarily due to issues such as low pay and challenging working hours, as reported by Deutsche Welle (DW). Employees like Jelena from Leoni express discontent with their jobs, citing inadequate salaries and strenuous tasks like standing while performing repetitive cable-cutting duties.

According to Jelena, monotony poses a significant challenge, with workers repeatedly performing the same tasks throughout the day. Leoni, with 12,500 employees in Serbia, addresses ergonomic concerns by providing soft surfaces for standing, although most positions require prolonged standing.

Regarding working conditions, Leoni emphasizes a “just in time” production model, necessitating prompt responses to customer demands. However, such flexibility can affect workers’ vacation schedules, which are challenging to predict far in advance. Nevertheless, the company offers various channels for employees to address grievances, including avenues for reporting abuses anonymously.

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While complaints often revolve around working hours and paid overtime, Leoni asserts that many issues stem from miscommunication rather than legal violations. Efforts are underway to improve employee understanding of labor laws and company policies through enhanced communication channels and union collaborations.

In terms of salaries, Leoni maintains confidentiality, though it assures that wages exceed minimum labor standards. The company prides itself on offering competitive salaries within the region, acknowledging the subjective nature of adequacy based on individual needs.

At Lidl, another German company in Serbia, employees like Milica echo concerns about low pay and challenging work environments. However, Lidl emphasizes its commitment to fostering a sense of security and trust among employees, with clear communication channels for addressing grievances. The company emphasizes competitive salaries and additional benefits, such as private health insurance and access to professional consultations.

Both Leoni and Lidl maintain stringent internal control mechanisms to address complaints and ensure compliance with labor laws. Furthermore, German companies operating in Serbia must adhere to due diligence laws, allowing workers to lodge complaints directly with parent companies in Germany if local grievances remain unresolved. Through such measures, companies aim to uphold labor standards and address worker concerns across their global supply chains.

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