In contrast to the continuing challenge to get the central government to award a general pay rise to public service workers and sign a collective agreement, the SSM confederation reports that unions are having considerable success at local level. The UPOZ and SUTKOZ trade unions are negotiating collective agreements with municipalities and local utilities companies, securing the targeted pay increase of 2806 denari (€45) and even setting up new trade union organisations. Recent deals have been negotiated in Stip, Prilep and Struga.
The SSM trade union federation organised strike action across the public sector on 22 June. With inflation hitting double-figures, the federation is demanding a 2806 denari net (€45.5) increase for public sector workers in line with the increase in the national minimum wage. The union has been negotiating with the government with a view to achieving a pay increase this year had understood that the government would sign a collective agreement including a pay rise and discussions on future increases. However, it then became apparent that the resources to fund the pay rise had not been included
Last month, the leadership of the UPOZ trade union representing administration, judicial system and civil society organizations met with the minister for labour for the first time. Top of the agenda was the branch collective agreement with the union expressing concerns about its application and in particular a clause about the payment of a holiday allowance. However, the union also raised other issues in relation to the agreement and social dialogue, including its right to be consulted over the state budget. EPSU has written to the prime minister expressing support for UPOZ and calling on him
The SSM trade union federation has secured key changes to pension provision in draft legislation. The changes affect the number of years of contributions to get a pension, different retirement rules depending on the nature of work in different sectors, the possibility of early retirement from 60, the possibility for workers to make additional payments to improve their entitlement and extra years credited for workers in arduous occupations like construction.
The SSM trade union federation has successfully negotiated a reversal of government plans to suspend the payment of allowances to public service workers during April and May. The plan was part of COVID-19 emergency measures and would have applied to a wide range of payments related to length of service, night work, annual and other leave, retirement and severance. The federation welcomed the change, underlining how social dialogue can work even in emergency situations.
The UPOZ state administration and justice union is celebrating the signing of the first new collective agreement covering its members for 25 years. The agreement covers staff in administration and justice and related agencies and includes detailed provisions on pay and conditions that deliver improved rights for workers over and above legal rights and the general public sector agreement. It has 10 sections that cover a broad range of rules including on working time, sick pay, annual leave and other special leave arrangements, travel allowances and rules on the role of the trade union.
EPSU position on the EU’s Western Balkans Strategy: strengthen collective bargaining, build independent high quality public administrations and institutions and invest in public services
The Western Balkan strategy of the European Commission is a significant step in providing positive prospects for the workers and people of these countries