Macedonia: Union pressure pays off
Following a protest of 3,500 teachers outside the Ministry of Education on 15 February, EI affiliate SONK (Autonomous Trade Union of Education, Science and Culture of the Republic of Macedonia) signed an agreement with the Minister of Education which meets all the demands of the teachers.
The agreement ensures that teachers in Macedonia will continue to receive their wages and benefits, including a transportation bonus, from the national budget until municipalities reach a level of sustainable development enable them to fund wages and benefits without obstacles.
This is crucial because after July 1st the payment of wages and benefits was supposed to be taken over by local governments. SONK had expressed strong doubts about the capacity of local government to handle this. SONK also obtained an agreement that negotiations for a minimum wage will be completed by 31 March 2007. The broader negotiations over the collective agreements for higher education and science will start without delay between SONK and the Ministry of Education and will be signed at the latest by May 2007.
The Government of Macedonia also pledged that a similar agreement will be signed shortly between SONK and the Ministers of Labour and Culture for the early childhood education personnel (Minister of Labour) and for employees in the cultural sector (who are also organised by SONK).
When announcing the settlement of the dispute, the SONK General Secretary, Dojcin Cvetanoski thanked all the international union organisations for their support, mentioning specifically EI and the AFL-CIO Solidarity Center, and thanked all SONK members for their endurance. "Stand united behind SONK because only when united we represent a real force" he said.
EI will follow up the implementation of the agreement by the Macedonian Government.