SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Amid the protests of thousands of workers, the Bosnian-Croat regional parliament on Thursday adopted a new labor law that aims to create a more business-friendly environment with the intention of creating jobs.
Thousands of Bosnians have taken their dissatisfaction with the new law to the streets of Sarajevo, claiming it harms workers' rights.
The protesters demanded the law not be discussed in the parliament until unions are involved in its drafting but the lawmakers still passed it.
If it had not been adopted, "there would be no new employments and no EU accession funds," said regional Prime Minister Fadil Novalic.
The law makes laying off workers somewhat easier and regulates severance terms. It introduces Western-style working contracts that no longer guarantee employment until retirement.
In the Bosnian Serb half of the country, the law has not yet reached parliament but workers' dissatisfaction is similar.
Bosnia's leaders want to move the country closer to EU membership by implementing EU-recommended socioeconomic reforms. The new law is part of that effort.
The former labor law was inherited from the communist regime and offered wide protection to workers but was not business-friendly. It was partly the reason for the 40 percent unemployment rate.