3 – Regular violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index


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Dismissals in violation of collective agreement, strikers suspended at power plant22-05-2021

On 22 May 2021, Kürüm Holdings dismissed 20 mechanics and electricians at the Ulëz and Shkopet hydroelectric plants in violation of their collective agreement.
The hydroelectric plants are among four acquired by Turkish-based Kürüm Holdings from the Albanian government in a privatisation deal in 2013. Since buying the power plants for €110 million, Kürüm has reduced the workforce by 120, leaving only 43 workers. The power plants are the only major source of employment in the region.
The company promised that there would be no more dismissals and that further staff reductions would be achieved through not replacing those who retire. Most of the workers at the power plants have 30 years of service, and many are close to retirement. Despite undertakings not to do so given in a collective agreement signed in 2019 with the Trade Union Federation of Industrial Workers of Albania (FSPISH), the company went ahead with the additional 20 dismissals.
The workers staged daily protests, picketing picketing Demonstration or patrolling outside a workplace to publicise the existence of an industrial dispute or a strike, and to persuade other workers not to enter the establishment or discourage consumers from patronising the employer. Secondary picketing involves picketing of a neutral establishment with a view to putting indirect pressure on the target employer. the plants, and trade union activists travelled from across Albania to join them. The company responded by persecuting the union committee and suspending those who took part in strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
The general secretary of the FSPISH, Taf Koleci, called on the owner to come and sit down with the union and agree to immediately cancel the workers’ dismissal.
Global trade unions added their support, calling on the government of Albania to intervene immediately at Kürüm International to guarantee the implementation and full respect of the collective agreement signed in 2019 and achieve the reinstatement of all the workers.

Strike at Tirana International Airport brutally suppressed by the government22-04-2021

The management of the Tirana International Airport refused to negotiate with union representatives, ignoring reported critical stress and physical and mental exhaustion of workers in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of addressing the health and safety and other workplace issues in dialogue with unions, both the management and the authorities unilaterally cut the workers’ salaries and resorted to harassment and intimidation against union members and workers, exacerbating pressure on workers. In this situation, the workers declared themselves medically unfit for duty in accordance with international standards in the civil aviation sector. In response, the government deployed law enforcement forces, removing workers from the premises and detaining union leaders for several days in police custody or under house arrest, threatening to take legal action against union leaders and engaging replacement workers from other countries.

Recognition of trade unions delayed14-01-2020
Arbitrary dismissal of the leaders of the Trade Union of United Mineworkers of Bulqiza five days after its establishment31-12-2019

The Trade Union of United Mineworkers of Bulqiza (Albania) announced its formation on 17 November 2019. Five days later, the chairman of the union (TUUMB) was dismissed by AlbChrome, the biggest chromium mining company operating in the region and part of a very powerful corporation (Balfin). In response, the workers went on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, demanding the reinstatement of their union leader and subsequently an end to worker repression and also demanding higher wages. In the days that followed, other union leaders and activists were temporarily detained and interrogated by the police.

On 2 December, AlbChrome fired another member of the union executive committee. Under attacks from the employer and the police, as well as under a total media blackout, the workers decided to close their strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
with the promise by the local Labour Inspectorate that the issue of the dismissal of trade unionists will be taken up by them.

On 12 December, another member of the union executive committee was given a warning of dismissal and demoted to a work position for which he has no previous experience.

By the end of 2019, many workers had been threatened with dismissal if they joined the new union or continued to be members. In addition, some trade unionists had been temporarily detained, questioned and intimidated by police, and some labour activists had been beaten up and imprisoned.

Unsurprisingly, the investigation of the Labour Inspectorate concluded that the company had not committed any legal violation in dismissing the trade union leaders. The decision was hailed as a victory by both the employer and the old, existing trade union.

Although the export revenues from chromium reach over 100 million euros per year, families in Bulqiza are amongst the poorest in Albania, and their survival depends on the mines. Meanwhile, the attacks on the union have continued.

Union members suspended 31-12-2018

The Union of the Independent Trade Unions of Albania (BSPSH) reported that in 2018 many trade union members, including union leaders, were arbitrarily suspended in several companies – Energy Company O.S.T. (Energy Transmission Operator), National Agency of Natural Resources and Footwear Company ALBA Group sh.p.k.

The Ministry of Education deliberately delays negotiations18-02-2018

The Confederation of the Trade Unions of Albania (KSSH) and the Union of the Independent Trade Unions of Albania (BSPSH) reported that in 2017 the Ministry of Education delayed negotiations with the national trade unions for over eight months to avoid signing a four-year collective contract in the education sector. An agreement was finally reached at the end of the year.

Anti-union practices still widespread16-02-2018

Trade unions in Albania report that anti-union practices are still widespread in the country. According to the Confederation of the Trade Unions of Albania (KSSH), unionised workers in the private and the public sectors still face discrimination while interference during strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
action is still frequent (e.g., hiring of workers to replace striking workers and striking workers forced back to work in the oil sector). The Union of the Independent Trade Unions of Albania (BSPSH) indicates that in 2017 there were cases of employers withholding union dues despite check-off check-off A system where union dues and fees are automatically deducted by the employer from the workers’ paychecks and then remitted to the respective union. agreements.

Government suspends the National Labour Council 30-01-2018

Between 2017 and January 2018, the government suspended the work of the National Labour Council (NLC) and stripped this national tripartite social dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. body of its functions for the benefit of the newly created Economic Council. The social partners social partners Unions and employers or their representative organisations. have not been consulted on this decision. The new institutional framework lacks clarity about the relevant functions, which endangers the functioning of labour administration and enforcement of labour regulation.

Workers prevented from joining union of their choice08-06-2016

Workers at the Durres Ferry Terminal were prevented from joining the BSPSH-affiliated union by their employer, a private enterprise. In the run-up to the trade union elections, those who wanted to join the BSPSH’s affiliate were threatened. The employer would only recognise unions created within the enterprise, which the BSPSH viewed as yellow unions.

Obstacles to setting up union bank accounts08-06-2016

It remains difficult for trade union federations to set up bank accounts, the Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania (BSPSH) reports. They are often required to be registered at the tax office and provide a “TIN” number, given to registered business, even though they are non-profit organisations exempted from tax. The problem has been raised several times in the National Labour Council but to date no solution has been found.

Attempt to by-pass BSPSH union in collective bargaining08-06-2016

When the Independent Education Trade Union affiliated to the Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania (BSPSH) applied for a renewal of its collective agreement in December 2014 as the most representative trade union in the Albanian education system, it met with repeated delays. The BSPSH believes the aim was to remove the union from the negotiations and sign an agreement with the union close to the government. Finally, thanks to the intervention of the National Conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
Office, negotiations began at the end of September 2015, and an agreement was signed by the parties in January 2016.

Discrimination against independent union federation08-06-2016

The Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania (BSPSH) is currently under-represented on the National Labour Council, where it has a minority of representatives despite having the highest membership. The BSPSH also notes that the KESH energy corporation and the Ministry of Health have both signed collective agreements with unions close to the government, despite the fact that BSPSH represents the highest number of workers. The BSPSH was signatory to a collective agreement with the Ministry of Health until February 2015, when the new agreement was signed with anther union behind its back.

Union leaders unfairly dismissed08-06-2016

The Union of Independent Trade Unions of Albania (BSPSH) reported that leaders of its member unions had again been dismissed for their union activities. The chairmen of enterprise level unions in the following industries and regions were dismissed:
In the forestry sector in Korca and Puka,
In the energy sector in Shkodra,
In the health system in Shkodra, Elbasan, Gjirokastra and Fier,
In the telecom system in Fier and Gjirokastra,
In the Water Supply and Sewerage system in Tirana.
In most cases the employers were found guilty of unfair dismissal and the union leaders received compensation.

Anti-union discrimination:19-06-2015

Several workers were dismissed from their jobs for joining and leading trade unions.
- The leader of the Trade Unions of Energy Enterprises was transferred from his workplace to another site.
- The leader of the Trade Unions of the Telecom Company was dismissed under the guise of restructuring.
- The leader of the Trade Unions of Forest Enterprises was dismissed in 2014 and continues to challenge his dismissal in court.

Bad working conditions in textile and footwear sector31-12-2011

Violations of workers’ and trade union rights are especially frequent in the textile and footwear sector, which accounts for around 35% of exports and employs around two thirds of all workers in the private non-agricultural sector. Out of approximately 100,000 workers, around 90% are young women, while child labour is not uncommon. The rate of unregistered workers in the industry is estimated at around 40%. Union membership in the sector remains very low, owing to threats of dismissal against anyone joining a union.

Weak law enforcement31-12-2011

The Labour Inspectorate is very under-resourced, with the result that very few companies are inspected, despite numerous complaints lodged by trade unions. Labour inspectors often do not have the right professional background as they are recruited principally according to political preferences.

Workers’ and trade union rights are not efficiently protected by the courts, which are overloaded and may take up to three years to review cases of anti-union harassment. Some of the judges assigned to labour cases are not specialised in labour issues.

Anti-union employers31-12-2011

The Confederation of Trade Unions of Albania (KSSH) reports that employers’ anti-union behaviour is widespread, and includes transfers, demotions, wage cuts and dismissals. Many companies remain very hostile to trade unions, seeing them as an obstacle to freely managing their relationship with the workers, and try to avoid collective agreements. In some companies, trade unions are denied contact with the workers, and there have been cases of violent anti-union behaviour.

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