The main pillars
- Miners’ Status
- Local issues (transportation, forests, rivers)
- Workers’ rights
- Social rights
The continuous decades-long demand of the miners has been – and still remains to this day – the legal recognition of the Miners’ Status, as the precondition for the profession of the miner to obtain the dignity it deserves. The Status will ensure:
- Higher wages for the most dangerous profession today in Albania. Our demand is for the minimum wage for the miners to become not lower than 235% of the official minimum wage, the recognition of categories of wages depending on the level of skill and seniority in the workplace, the rewarding of the 13th wage;
- Special healthcare, including full health check-ups at least twice a year, free health treatment for occupational diseases and 100% refund for medicaments;
- Life insurance for miners, in cases of accidents that cause death, the families of the deceased will receive 6 million lekë (4800 euros), university scholarships for their children, as well as financial support in cases of mutilation in proportion to the damage sustained;
- Retirement benefits, the age of retirement will be lowered to 53-55 years old and the retirees will receive full pension from the moment of retirement not lower than 135% of the official minimum wage, including the supplementary financial treatment.
Local issues (transportation, forests, rivers)
Dibër is one of the poorest regions of Albania, and therefore faces a mountain of issues that none of the old parties in power at regional or national level has ever raised in 30 years. Elton will raise his voice in the Parliament for those daily problems of common people that other politicians do not dare – or are unwilling – to talk about:
- For the degradation of road infrastructure: the majority of villagers in the four main regions of Dibër are faced with inaccessible roads or blocked from snow in the winter months. Isolated and left to fend for themselves, the locals in many instances pull back their sleeves to fight with the mud and to pierce through snow, in order for their loved ones to reach medical centres. The government continuously touts the propaganda about the construction of the Road of Arber (a highway that will connect Dibër to Tirana), but the people in the villages are trapped in their villages, although just a few kilometres away from urban centres. Even the main arteries that connect the cities are degraded and remain a source of recurring accidents. The government ought to be held responsible for asphalting and the necessary maintenance of rural and urban roads.
- For the problems faced by farmers and stockbreeders: besides the lack of state subsidies for these professions, they have to deal with the depletion of water resources necessary for the irrigation of crops, leading to the gradual depopulation of villages. Land that used to produce twice a year has now become barren. What is more, the villagers face the challenge of bringing their agricultural products to market and the lack of dairies for the sale of livestock products. Dibër necessitates policies that will subsidize farmers and stockbreeders, protect water resources and domestic products from the competition as well as facilitate their access to the local markets.
- For the destruction of natural resources: the unscrupulous cutting down of forests in Koçaj, Dushaj, Kokërdhak and Valikardhë of Fushë-Bulqizë aroused the anger and brought the reaction of the inhabitants, who united managed to chase away the speculators who destroy the nature with the blessing of politicians. On the other hand, the inhabitants have to deal with the draining of water resources from hydropower plants (HPPs) that have been built speculatively (the HPP planned to be built in Skavica is expected to bring serious consequences), or worse still, the poisoning of dozens of people from the mixing of sewage with drinking water. The town of Bulqiza and nearby villages are surrounded by numerous water sources, but running water in houses comes in intervals. The solution to this situation would be the sanctioning of areas under protection, such as forests, pastures and water resources that are of vital importance to the community, as well as improving the water supply network in cities and villages.
The mines in Albania still remain open tombs that gobble up people’s lives. That is why the trade unionist struggle began in Bulqizë – with the founding of the United Miners of Bulqiza Trade Union – in order for it to spread all over the country.
In Bulqizë, Krastë and Martanesh the miners work in miserable conditions and are not being paid for months on end. Daily accidents occurring within the mine pits never come to light and the macabre goes as far as to concoct different scenarios for fatal accidents that are far from the truth, just so as to avoid responsibility. Whoever dares to raise their voice is immediately fired from work, not just because until very recently there were no real trade unions defending the workers, but also because the state works in partnership with the mine owners.
These conditions are not specific to the miners, but hundreds of thousands of workers all over the country face similar hardships. The voice of Elton in Parliament will become the constant call of the indefatigable trade unionist for the rights of the oil refinery workers, the manufacturing and construction workers, and every other worker who is exploited and underpaid. From the podium of the Parliament Elton will demand:
- The guaranteed right for trade union organizing and implementation of incentives for every worker to partake in the founding of new and independent trade unions through the simplification of the legal procedures;
- The legal recognition of the Miners’ Status and the improvement of the Oil Workers’ Status, as well as the recognition as occupations of special difficulty of other categories of professions, such as call centre workers, metal workers etc.;
- The annual increase of the minimum wage until the average of European countries;
- The recognition of contributions and benefits for a full pension for women currently working illegally in picking up chromium minerals from stockpiles and selling them by weight;
- Valid employment contracts – individual and collective – for every worker;
- Job protection for workers when companies declare bankruptcy;
- The legal recognition of skill and seniority in the workplace as a criterion of wage categories for workers in the public as well as the private sector;
- Wage increase for workers in the public sector and independence of job positions from party influence;
- The right to be reinstated at a job position, in the public as well as private sector, after illegal firing from work;
- The elimination of the pay gap between men and women for the same job position;
- The incentivisation of policies for full employment, so that no skilled worker is left jobless.
The region of Dibër is one of the poorest in the country, although rich in vast natural resources as well as a young workforce. Poverty is pushing ever more young adults to abandon their place of birth.
Basic social services, such as healthcare and education, have collapsed even more than in other parts of the country. Abandoned for decades on end from rascals and crooked politicians, such basic goods have degraded year after year.
For the 32,000 inhabitants of Bulqizë, at least 13 doctors need to be working in this area, but currently, only 6 of them are active, whereas for three administrative units (Ostren, Gjoricë and Trebisht) medical care is provided by a single doctor. Similarly, healthcare service in the region of Martanesh for 2,500 inhabitants, 1,300 of which work in the mines, is provided in a single room. Some 20 years ago, the regional hospital of this area – that has now turned into a ruin – used to employ 6 doctors that took care of a population of 13,000 inhabitants.
The schooling conditions for children living in the villages are no less difficult. The villages lack the necessary infrastructure for the pupils to accomplish their education: in the village Plan i Bardhë the children have to walk for 7 kilometres to the nearest school in Kloskatund, whereas in the village Brezhdan kids need to cross the river over the collapsed bridge in order to reach their local school.
Who before has raised such issues in Parliament about the region of Dibër?! How many times have parliamentarians talked about healthcare and education?! From the podium of the Parliament Elton will demand:
- The adoption of the law on a living wage based on the considerations about social needs;
- The increase of the percentage of taxation that goes to the local municipality for mineral extraction from 5% to at least 8%, so that we can pay for basic healthcare and education services;
- The amelioration of the conditions in healthcare centres in order to fulfil the immediate basic needs of the population;
- The increase of medical staff and the incentivisation of younger doctors, who are looking for medical experience, to work temporarily in regions such as Dibër, where there is a shortage of medical staff;
- Building new healthcare centres;
- Providing transportation means for all the pupils from the villages to the nearest schools;
- Providing books and other school equipment necessary for children from families in economical difficulty;
- Improving the education infrastructure.
ELTON DEBRESHI, COLLECTIVE STRUGGLE
VOTE NR. 13!