Pristina violates the Law on Labor- 20 teachers without wages and contracts

There is no doubt that the biggest violators of workers’ rights in Kosovo can be found in the private sector. This can be proved easily by going to large or small stores and talking to employees, asking them how many days off they have per week, how long their working hours are, what annual leave they have, how pregnant women are treated, how they are laid off right after birthing their child(ren), or how their maternity leave is not paid at all, is enough to draw the conclusion that workers’ rights in this sector are more violated than of those in the public sector.

So, despite the legal framework, there is a large difference between public and private sector.

Nevertheless, there are cases when workers’ rights are violated in the public sector as well. The latest case which deserves attention is that of the Municipality of Pristina, where 20 elementary and high school education workers that were hired through a regular vacancy announcement, are at the end of the third month of employment and still continue to be discriminated against in three aspects.

First, they have not received their paychecks since they started their job. Second, despite not receiving their paychecks, they were not offered the chance to sign their contracts, which is also a violation of the Law on Labor. Third, as the discriminated S.G., who is employed in one of the gymnasiums of the capital city, states they are not being given any explanation. They are not even told after how many months they will be paid for this work.

“I’ve applied for a vacancy of the Municipality of Pristina in January of this year. I’ve been through all of the filters and after I’ve fulfilled all of the criteria, I was invited to start working in the gymnasium”, claims S.G., while adding that he was not surprised by the carelessness of municipal authorities during the first month, because, as he stated, these things have become usual in Kosovo.

“However, when the half of the second month of employment passed, and all of us [20 teachers] did not receive our paychecks and contracts, nor an explanation why this was not happening, we started to worry and to become curious of what was going to happen with us”, stated S.G. angrily, while adding that he and his colleagues that were accepted through the same vacancy announcement went to the municipality several times and met with officials, but did not receive any answer. According to him, such negligence by state institutions is sad and leaves people hopeless.

Finding himself in such position, S.G. decided to write directly to municipal officials so as to express his dissatisfaction and to let them know that he will continue to complain to other instances as well, despite consequences and the absence of a work contract. He mentioned media to municipal officials; nevertheless he told to the author of this article that in case such problem persists he will start a court procedure. This is because he, as a teacher, knows that the Law on Labor together with other administrative decisions and regulations related to employment in Kosovo are being breached.

“I am not writing out of pride and haughtiness, I am writing out of despair, because I have a family and I also have financial obligations at bank; omission from the payroll and absence of a work contract, without any explanation from MED, constitutes a violation of legal rights”, stated S.G. to municipal authorities more than three weeks ago.

At that time he had also suspected that he would not receive his wage at the end of May, and this is what is happening right now.  He claimed that he did not receive any notification that he will be paid retroactively this month.

“We are being put in positions no one would desire. Lately municipal authorities claimed that they are working on this matter and that no one will be left without contracts, but they did not provide any concrete explanation with regard to how these job placements were announced, how 20 teachers were accepted, and how they worked three months without being paid” claimed SG.

Despite how this situation will proceed, whether it will go to court or not, it is unacceptable for these 20 teachers to be put in such positions where instead of thinking how to prepare for classes they have to think about what will happen to them, particularly when the competition for any job vacancy in Kosovo is too strong. 

In order for these things not to happen again, bodies or agencies (inspectors) that are responsible for monitoring the implementation of laws should react on time, and if necessary should punish the violators, regardless whether they are private entities or public institutions. Responsibility is much greater in cases when human rights are violated by institutions, which, above everything else, have a duty to protect the rights of citizens. 

Emine Klaiqi
Prishtina, May 2015