We need to change the Labor Law and increase the minimum wage

This May 1st is finding the world and Kosovo facing the health and economic consequences of COVID-19 pandemic.

The position of workers in Kosovo has not improved significantly this year either. The minimum wage has not moved from 170 EUR per month (as set in 2011), although during this time there has been an increase in the living costs by an average of 3% per year (inflation rate). Occupational hazards have declined slightly this year (May 1, 2019 – May 1, 2020). During 2019 in Kosovo 11 people lost their lives in their workplace.

But the worst at this time is the economic and social situation created as a result of the pandemic. It is mostly hitting the poorest sections of society – social cases, the unemployed, but also low-income employees, especially those in the private sector.

The Institute for Social Policy “Musine Kokalari” calls for the Government of the Republic of Kosovo to make one of the first priorities, after returning to normal, to increase the minimum wage, in order to enable employees in Kosovo a dignified living through their salary. Currently such a salary should not be below 300 Euros. This minimum wage needs to be reviewed every year in order to be updated on developments in the country’s real economy.

We also call on the Members of the Assembly of the Republic of Kosovo to start the procedures for amending the Labor Law. Amending and supplementing the Labor Law would eliminate the extreme absurd flexibility of employment contracts, in order to guarantee job security and the right to trade union organization.

There is no minimum term for concluding an employment contract in the current Labor Law. The only fixed term there, is the maximum (10 years) for a fixed-term contract. If this is exceeded by the contract, then it is considered as an indefinite contract. The lack of a minimum term (example: termination of a contract shorter than 1 year) creates great uncertainty for workers, as it has already been proven that short-term contracts are often used as a means of discipline for workers, because they greatly increase the arbitrariness of employers and workers’ rights are truncated.

On the one hand, the category of workers who are without regular contracts is endangered, and on the other hand, workers with short-term contracts who are without any institutional support. At the same time being mostly employed in jobs that do not require skilled labor, they are easily replaceable.

And finally, it is necessary to expand and strengthen trade union organizations in all sectors of the economy and industry. Especially to establish and involve in the unions the workers of those branches of the economy which are not at all involved in the unions.

Congratulations on May 1st to all workers!

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