Citizens of Serbia have been witnessing for weeks that the results of coronavirus tests are delayed for days, sometimes weeks. And what does that mean for employers, when their work “stands” because of this delay, because the workers cannot return to the plant?
The availability of only Chinese tests for coronavirus and waiting for results for more than two or three days, causes significant damage to businessmen. According to Dragoljub Rajic, coordinator of the Business Support Network, those damages at the level of the entire economy can reach millions of euros.
“Some of our companies, which are subcontractors of large German and other foreign companies, send their workers, most often fitters and engineers abroad. For that, they need corona testing. However, it often happens that local companies pay in advance for testing for their workers in a foreign country. Because, here, the results are sometimes waited for more than a week, two days, and the business of the companies depends on that, penalties are paid. In addition, unreliable Chinese tests are used in Serbia, which many countries in Europe have not recognized,” Dragoljub Rajic, from the Business Support Network, told Nova.
These tests abroad, as he states, cost from 90 to 150, 190 euros, depending on the manufacturer, but also the country.
“The Netherlands, Spain, Britain and many other countries that bought tests from China have determined that a good part of those tests are not valid. And there is no choice here – you can only buy Chinese-made tests. Some companies, which are ready to pay even more just to test workers reliably and on time – cannot buy any other test,” says Rajic.
An additional problem, he says, is that the results of these tests available to us arrive seven, ten, and even 15 days late.
“And what should you do now when you need to send people on a trip in a short time? You send them without results. We have examples that engineers reached Belgium and the Netherlands, and the test results came after them,” states Rajic.
Another problem, he says, is when corona appears in a factory circle. Then measures must be applied, isolating people with symptoms.
Often the company decides to test other employees in order to calm the worried workers.
And then the results are waited for a week or two, and during that time the job is standing.
Srdjan Drobnjakovic, director of the Union of Employers of Serbia, says for Nova that the problem of health safety, as well as testing employees on Covid-19, has hit production activities the hardest.
“Many companies have stopped the production process for safety reasons, because the test results themselves are not reliable after two days. Many test their employees work for fifteen days. Of course, absence from work due to testing leads to a loss in the process itself, but at this moment it is not possible to express that with a precise number,” points out Drobnjakovic.
“That is why a large part of small companies resorted to forced vacations, in the hope that the pandemic would subside. Unfortunately, the second wave continues and a large number of employers are in a dilemma of what to do in the coming period. Statistically, we do not have data on how many people were fired for this reason,” states Drobnjakovic.
Illustrating how much a company can lose due to delays in the execution of work, regardless of the cause of that delay, Dragoljub Rajic states that penalties for each day of delay are usually paid in the amount of 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent in relation to the value of the work.
“If you are five or ten days late, you have already lost one, two percent of your earnings on average, which is valuable at the moment. It all depends on the value of the job, the contract. But the conditions are now such that all companies are struggling to maintain the level of orders. Very often you can be at a loss, lose a business partner, pay penalties,” said Rajic.
He reiterates that our economy, due to the decision to import only Chinese tests, suffers multimillion damages.
“Several directors and members of the Network called me with questions about whether there are any other tests, whether we can test faster. In most cases, it was a suspicion that someone was infected, so they wanted to check, and most often it turned out that it was not even a corona. The employer is there in unpicked grapes. Because, if in a situation when he has a delivery, he needs to stop working for seven or ten days, believe that it is very counterproductive in these conditions,” explains the interlocutor of Nova.