September 20, 2017

Normed labour input will continue to be an obstacle for payment of minimal salary in the future

The Helsinki Committee of Human Rights has expressed its concerns regarding the amendments to the Law on Minimal Salary in the Republic of Macedonia, adopted on the 12th Session of the Parliament of the Republic of Macedonia within a shortened procedure. Even though according to the state legal amendments the nominal amount of minimal salary paid in the Republic of Macedonia for the period September 2017-February 2018 has risen to 12.000 MKD, yet provisions remain for meeting the norms on labour input as a condition for payment of minimal salary. Due to this fact, the Law has failed to ensure that workers in all sectors will get their legally proscribed minimal salary, leaving room for manipulations, pressures and abuse by employers.

Article 1 of the this Law states that the normed labour input will be determined by the employer in February every year, on grounds of efficiency criteria in the production process defined by the employer in cooperation with the workers. Normed labour input should be reached by at least 80% of the workers for any technical and technological unit, separately. Sectors where normed labour input should be defined are those with the largest percentage of workers with minimal salary, including textile, leather, shoe manufacturing and mining industries, as well as with the most numerous cases of labour rights violations. Persistent mobbing, breach of workers’ rights in terms of working hours, annual leave days, working on non-working days and holidays, failure to provide extra payments to salaries, payment of salaries in cash, workers paying back sections of their salaries, signing blank documents by workers, work in bad hygiene, sanitary and safety conditions and inefficiency of inspection oversight are some of the problems faced by workers in the stated sectors. In such circumstances it is difficult to believe that employers and workers will have a fair and constructive dialogue regarding setting up the efficiency criteria for the production process, or making a joint, agreed and impartial decision.

Legal amendments fail to set up precise provisions to define ‘cooperation of the employer with the workers’ when assessing normed labour input. It is unclear whether such criteria are set up unanimously by all employees or with a majority vote, or whether negotiating the criteria involves all employees or a representative of the workers, or a representative of the trade union at companies where workers have established one.

An additional concern are claims by the Union of Industry, Energy and Mining, that the text containing legal amendments harmonized at a public debate and endorsed by the Economic and Social Council on 18/07/2017 by three social partners, did not at all contain provisions proscribing and defining normed labour input.

Therefore we consider that adoption of this law will in essence fail to increase minimal salary in sectors requiring normed labour input, so we demand urgent amendments to the Law on Minimal Salary in terms of removing the provisions for normed labour input.