The leader of one of the major Serbian unions warned on Friday that two thirds of the population are poor.
Nezavisnost United Branch Unions leader Zoran Stojiljkovic added that a fourth of those live in the poverty zone. “That’s a hardly bearable are in which you can’t afford a 100 Euro expense or pay for a vacation and you’re forced to make daily choices between the things that you really need,” he said.
He said that Serbia is not an especially successful or happy society in which modest growth goes hand in hand with rising inequality and wide-spread poverty. “The feeling of a lack of prospeccts and a desire to leave Serbia are logical outcomes,” Stojiljkovic said, adding that the reforms implemented by the authorities were aimed at achieving macroeconomic stability and liberalization and not at reducing inequality and social cohesion.
He said that the official figure of an average salary of 520 Euro hides the fact that most salaries in Serbia are below the level of 400 Euro. “Half of the workforce earn up to 45,000 Dinars (1 Euro – 118 Dinars) which just a little more than the minimum consumer basket. That hard reality shows the emptiness of statements that we were never better off,” he said. According to Stojiljkovic, a majority of Serbians are forced to make choices to survive from day to day and agree to the logic of “be happy that you have a job, don’t make waves, forget your ideals and join what you need to join”. “In order to get out of the labyrinth caught between fear and apathy one side and arrogance and greed on the other side of the social pyramid we first have to believe that there is a way out… think and take the first step,” he said.