Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 July 2014, 15:15 GMT

2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Kosovo

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Kosovo, 11 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52cae037.html [accessed 31 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 2,000,000
Capital: Pristina
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: none

Kosovo declared independence in February. Legislation established under the UN administration guarantees basic trade union rights, however companies that respect those rights are an exception. Collective agreements are frequently violated. A trade union leader was assaulted in front of his office.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association: The new Constitution (in force from 15 June) guarantees the freedom to establish and join trade unions for the protection of interests. The right to organise may be limited by law for specific categories of employees.

The United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) regulation 2001/27 on the Essential Labour Law of Kosovo stipulates basic trade union rights in line with ILO conventions 87 and 98. However, there are no specific laws protecting trade union rights and freedoms, so the unions' position is not facilitated.

Legislative reform: The Government's legislative programme envisages adopting new laws to replace the UNMIK regulation. The Labour Law was scheduled to be passed in March 2009, with the Law on Trade Union Organisations in September and the Law on Strikes in October 2009. At the time of writing trade unions considered this schedule unrealistic. Moreover, due to the pressure of the international financial institutions, the government agreed to redraft the whole Labour Law to make it more "investor-friendly".

Collective bargaining: The UNMIK regulation provides for collective bargaining at the national, sectoral and enterprise levels. The maximum duration of collective agreements is set at three years.

Right to strike: The right to strike is not recognised, but strikes do take place in practice. In October healthcare workers were able to obtain significant pay increases after a two-day strike.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: On 17 February Kosovo declared its independence. As the state was immediately recognised by the USA and many EU countries, but not by Serbia, in October the UN General Assembly referred the declaration of independence to the International Court of Justice. The social situation remains very difficult. 20% of Kosovars live in extreme poverty.

Social dialogue: Social dialogue has been lacklustre, with the work of the tripartite Economic and Social Council remaining a formality and the General Collective Agreement as well as a number of sectoral agreements not being enforced. The free trade union confederation "Bashkimi I Sindikatave të Pavarura të Kosovëj" (BSPK, an ITUC affiliate) has barely managed to meet with the authorities since the 2007 national elections. The BSPK staged a large-scale protest on 1 May, which was followed up by other protests by workers in healthcare, education, the police, the judiciary and public administration. For a long time their demands went unanswered. However, by the end of the year the BSPK President had managed to arrange a meeting with the Prime Minister, with a view to resolving some social problems through dialogue.

Anti-union employers: Workers' rights are violated in every sector, including international organisations. Only a small number of companies respected rules prohibiting anti-union discrimination. Sometimes workers are prevented from joining trade unions.

Trade union leader assaulted: On 3 April Hasan Abazi, the Vice-President of the BSPK, was badly injured near the trade union office and needed to be hospitalised. Abazi later said that he had received threatening phone calls, and that he was convinced that the attack was related to his trade union work.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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