Serbian power company staff pressured to change cable operators

NEWS 03.11.2020 21:14
Source: N1

A number of Serbian power company (EPS) employees told N1 that they were under pressure to change cable operators providing services to their homes from SBB to the state-controlled Telekom Serbia.

Economy professore Milojko Arsic said that he believes that is in violation of the rules of equality for all market participants while lawyer Ivan Ninic said that the pressure is in violation of the law on contractual relations.  

One of the EPS employees who insisted on anonymity handed N1 a document which is doing the rounds in the power company which lists the employees who are Telekom Serbia (MTS) or SBB clients in separate columns with the time left till the SBB contracts expire. The EPS employee said that managers and the EPS union are exerting pressure. He also asked N1 not to air the audio recording of his testimony and release it only in writing. “My superior polled staff to see who was on SBB and up to when and to get them to change to MTS when the contract expires. TS offers 12 months of free service and the EPS pays for two more months which is absurd,” he said.  

The man said that pressure is also coming from the EPS union. N1 sent a question to both the EPS management and the union but got no reply a day later. University economics

Professor Milojko Arsic said that if the claims are true, this is an example of unfair competition where one market participant uses illegal means against another. “Obviously this is a form of pressure on private individuals which violates competition and I think that something like this should be the subject of a complaint to the Commission to Protect Competition. Of course if there is evidence because competition is necessary to maintain the quality of content among competing TV stations,” Arsic said.

Lawyer Ivan Ninic said that in this case, the question is whether EPS employees will suffer any consequences in the workplace since they are not obliged to accept the offer under pressure. “Freedom of contract should not be in doubt and any form of pressure in contractual relations and contracts like this is not permitted under the law on contractual relations. Those contracts are legally null and void and have no legal effect. We see that the union is the extended arm of the authorities which is typical for the EPS union which wants to maintain its political influence after having stood in elections in Lazarevac as a citizens’ organization,” Ninic said.

There was a lot of chatter on social media in October about the pressure in the EPS and public administration to force employees to change to Telekom Serbia as their cable provider at home. Reports of that came from Novi Sad, Vrbas, Pancevo and other places. N1 reported earlier about reports that officials in the town of Plandiste were doing the same after a document was made public confirming pressure to change operators. SBB is part of the United Group which includes N1.