Bosnian unions protest EU labour law reforms

(MENAFN- AFP) Several thousand people protested Thursday against a new labour law as a part of reforms required by the EU, arguing that it would reduce the local labour force to "slavery".

"It is a road to hell, a path towards a society of slaves," union leader Selvedin Satorovic said.

Bosnian authorities agreed to introduce economic and social reforms to reduce unemployment and improve the business climate in the country of 3.8 million people, which has an unemployment rate of 44 percent.

The protesters gathered before the parliament of the Muslim-Croat Federation, one of Bosnia's two entities which must should pass the new bill, urging lawmakers to reject it.

The same draft must also be passed into law in the Serb-run entity, Republika Srpska.

The unions argue that the new legislation will reduce the rights of employees and make it much easier to employers to fire workers.

"The labour law was not made for the employees. It was made for employers and the political elite and to transform us into their slaves," one of the protesters, Izet Djulic, told AFP.

Although it has qualified as a "possible candidate" to enter the EU since 2003, Bosnia has never been granted EU candidate status due to permanent inter-ethnic disputes that blocked reforms for years.

Bosnia seriously lags behind all other Balkans countries on the path towards EU membership.

At the instigation of Britain and Germany, the EU decided last year to give the country another chance, vowing to help it get back on the track if its leaders implement the required reforms.

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