365 days on strike

Former Tube Factory workers are on strike for a year now and they demand from the government and the KPA the payments of wages in the 90s. They base their claim on the decision of the Municipal Court of Ferizaj, act-decision of the Constitutional Court, the decisions of the Government, the Assembly and the Special Chamber of the Supreme Court.

Strike Council member, Ahmet Sylejmani, says that staying in tents for a year has caused many health problems. But strikers resist and the hope that one day the promises will come true. They made efforts to meet the new prime minister in December 2014, but the meeting never took place.

“We made a request for a meeting in December, but the new prime minister has not met us yet. Then we resent the request in March and April, but we got ignored again”, said Sylejmani. “Now we decided that every day we’ll send a formal request, which is being protocoled at the Prime Minister's Office".

He adds that the strike is right, because it simply request the implementation of decisions that institutions themselves had taken. He says the first was the decision of the Court of Ferizaj; later that of the Constitutional Court. Following there was a decision made by the government, which initially intended to complete the obligations to workers and had sent the decision for approval in the Assembly. But after the Assembly had given the green light, the government had decided to withdraw from money allotted to the privatization of SOEs, which would enable KPA to settle the obligations towards the former workers of the Tube Factory.

The case of Tube workers is a dangerous precedent, because Serbia has done the same with all Albanian workers. The amount that KPA will pay to the workers as a compensation of '90s' wages remains questionable.

As “Koha Ditore” reports, none of the courts decision(s) mentioned or made any reference to the amount that Tube workers will receive. The final decision (C.nr.340 / 2001) of the Municipal Court of Ferizaj did not mention the amount of funds, but only acknowledge the right of the workers to get reimbursed.

After that, former employees have requested from the Municipal Court in Ferizaj the  execution of the decision, claiming a compensation of an amount of over 25 million euros, with interest rate of 3 per cent from 13 March 2002 until the date of final payment. Two court decisions allowed the execution of the application for reimbursement of this amount.

But, because court decisions have not been implemented, the former employees went to the Constitutional Court, which two years ago reviewed the judgment of the Municipal Court in Ferizaj (C.nr.340 / 2001), and similarly, did not mention any amount to be reimbursed.

Because the case of these employees received several judicial decisions, in 2012 KPA asked the Constitutional Court for clarification regarding an article of the judgment on the case of former the employees of Tube and Steel Factory, decision which is considered as final and binding. The Constitutional Court said it was about the Decision of the Municipal Court of Ferizaj, C. Nr. 340/2011 of 11 January 2002; not about the court decisions that allowed the execution and in which was mentioned the amount of 25 million euros. The Constitutional Court has clarified that it has not decided for material compensation or what amount should be allocated to workers whose rights were violated during the process of privatization of their employer.

On the other hand, KPA, despite having received guidance from the Special Chamber of the Supreme Court for the execution of the decision of Parliament, cannot take any decision on the charges in the absence of three international members on its board.

This is the longest strike that was held in Kosovo. Former Tube factory workers are determined to continue the strike until completion of payment. “We will stay here until we see the money in our accounts. We will not stop the strike only based on empty promises, because so far no one was respected” says Sylejmani. “We have a legal right to protest and to strike”.

Merita Berisha
Pristina, May 2015