Kosovo: union’s collective bargaining efforts backed by European-wide support
The European region of Education International (EI) is demanding that Kosovo’s public authorities fully implement the collective agreement that was signed a year ago.
On 29 April, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) wrote to Education International (EI)’s affiliate, the Union of Education, Science and Culture of Kosovo (SBASHK), expressing its solidarity with the union for the protest action kicked off that morning in the pre-universities and universities.
The letter noted the “intolerable delaying tactics of the Ministry of Education Science and Technology of Kosovo (MEST)” in not respecting the agreement signed with the union representatives, acknowledging that their “patience has been truly put to the test”.
The union had asked the ETUCE for support explaining that it had organised three escalating union actions at the beginning of 2015, because of the non-implementation of some parts of the collective agreement signed with the MEST in April 2014. Among the details that were to be implemented by January 2015 were: a 0.5 per cent salary increase according to work experience, a 70 per cent subsidy of bus ticket fee for commuting teachers, and 2 euros per working day per teacher for meals.
Even after these union actions, the Government did not implement any of the agreement, even though the trade union had given the Ministry enough time and held many meetings with its representatives.
Success will come
In its letter, the ETUCE said it stands “unreservedly” with the protesters and supports their “fair and justified demands for an immediate correction of the Ministry’s inaccurate and unfair approach”. It believes that SBASHK members’ efforts and persistence in reminding the MEST of its responsibility towards people working in education will finally lead to success.
“The ETUCE thanks all the protesters for their important contribution which they make to build a better future through their active defence of the quality in education,” ETUCE Director Martin Rømer said.
To highlight its continuing concern, the SBASHK Executive Council had decided to call a general strike for 20 April. The Government asked the trade union not to strike, and during an extraordinary meeting 18 April it decided that one of the SBASHK requests – a 0.5 per cent salary increase according to work experience - would be implemented in the April salary of educators.
On 19 April, the SBASHK Executive Council decided to postpone the strike for one week, to check if the government was going to implement its decision.
However, the government did not honour its promise. At another extraordinary meeting on 27 April, the SBASHK Executive Council decided to call a general strike in pre-universities and universities as of 29 April.
Call for dialogue
During the strike, all employees must be in their work places, explained SBASHK President Rrahman Jasharaj, adding that “the strike will last as long as the government does not correct errors in the payroll”. However, other government obligations arising from the collective agreement signed between the SBASHK and the MEST must not be forgotten, he added.
To protect quality education and to ensure social peace and justice in Kosovo, the ETUCE hopes for a continuation of a real and effective dialogue leading to the “only correct consequence which will be the proper implementation of the collective agreement signed by the two social partners, SBASHK and MEST”.