Unions warn for protests if salaries are not increased

Unions warn for protests if salaries are not increased

IBNA Special Report

Pristina, December 22, 2014/ Independent Balkan News Agency

By Elton Tota

Head of the government of Kosovo, Isa Mustafa has declared that the 25% increase of salaries promised by the previous government is impossible. But, union officials have strongly reacted to this.

They say that they will take all necessary measures, including strikes and protests, if the new government of Kosovo doesn’t deliver the promise of the previous government in order to increase salaries for public service workers.

Head of Kosovo Civil Service Union (KCSU), Hajrullah Hoxha, says that now, the two governing coalition parties, must keep their promise of increasing payments, because these were the promises that they made to win the last election.

“KCSU believes that the failure to increase payments for civil servants would cause discontent in the administration of the Republic of Kosovo, because the 25% increase was promised in the election campaign by the coalition parties. Now, they must meet the promise made to their voters”, declared Hoxha.

He also stressed the demands of the Union and civil servants for the new government.

“The 25% salary increase and the application of the law for the salaries of civil servants and the revision and functioning of the regulation of employment in the institutions of Kosovo must take place by January 1, 2015. The Union believes that if these demands aren’t met, then we will be forced to take union action for our rights, based on the Constitution, laws in power and the Union’s statute and other normative acts”, said Hoxha.

Hoxha added that if salaries are not increased, their actions may escalate to protests and boycott of work.

“If we are left with no other choice and if there are no positive results in the talks, then there’s a good possibility”, says Hoxha.

According to him, the increase of salaries will lead to the reduction of corruption in Kosovo.

“I believe that this would reduce corruption. At the end of the day, competent agencies would do their job”, declared Hoxha.

Asked as to why Isa Mustafa must deliver the promise made by former PM Hashim Thaci and the previous government for the increase of salaries, Hoxha said that when the programs of the two parties were harmonized, the new program is not different to the program of PDK, which had promised an increase of salaries by 25% every year.

Analysts: Salary increases are unaffordable

Economy expert, Shkelzen Dakaj told IBNA that the 25% increase of salaries is unaffordable for Kosovo’s budget. According to him, this would cause a deficit for the state budget.

“The promise for the increase of salaries in the public sector by 25% a year, has only been an electoral promise of the former PM, Hashim Thaci. This artificial promise has not been based on financial logic. I believe that it would be best not to have any salary increases for public sector workers for several years. Kosovo’s budget cannot afford such increase of salaries”, Dakaj says.

Political expert, Vilhard Shala told IBNA that there’s no doubt that after January, this government will face massive protests by workers.

“I believe that besides workers, protests may also be joined by other citizens who live in extreme poverty. The new government must be more attentive as far as tax policies are concerned. It must find ways to improve social policies by offering aid to the citizens. This will offer a positive signal that things are starting to improve. This would also reduce the number of Kosovo nationals who migrate in an illegal way”, Shala says.

Protests have also been warned by the leader of the largest opposition party Self Determination, Albin Kurti. In a meeting with the party’s structure on Sunday, he said that the new government will go down within a short period of time by citizens who are not happy with the governing coalition.

“Chances are that this government will not end its term in office. The cause for this is extreme poverty, which will invite people to protest, because even police forces are being used to stop migration. In this aspect, our job is to be closer to people, offer them hope and invite them to be organized. This must start now and the structures must reflect over how can we be closer to unemployed people, the poor and peasants”, said Kurti. /ibna/