At the time of writing this column, the results of the first round of the presidential elections were still unknown. But this is not the main reason why I will not waste time on elections on this occasion. The main reason is that May Day is approaching and that presidential elections must not be allowed to overshadow our fight for social justice and a better living standard for the vast majority of citizens.
Many will be surprised – how could May 1st be more important than the question of who will be our next president? When, in fact, what is astonishing is how people who do not have the means for decent existence, who are trampled on by their rights and dignity, who don’t get paid for their labor as much as they should and need to be paid, are more interested in presidential elections than improving the condition they are in. The president of the state has no competences in economic and social policy. Who will be the president is important to the leaders of SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE, it is important for their party soldiers, but I do not think that other citizens need to be particularly bothered with this. Of course the vassal and corrupt leadership of SDSM-DUI-DPMNE want their priorities to become yours, but it is up to you to not allow them. It is the smallest resistance that you can give to their particracy.
The government is preparing a new labor law, which is completely suppressed by public discourse. It can go in three completely different directions. First, it can be legitimized by new reductions in labor rights. Secondly, it could essentially change nothing, and the government just wants to use the new law for cheap propaganda, to boast that they have adopted a new Law on Labor Relations. And thirdly, with the new law, we can get back the rights that we were denied these past 30 years. What will happen at the end – it also depends on us. If you are silent and indifferent about what rights we have and which we do not have, the government, in collusion with the large capital, will deprive us of our rights even more – for even greater profits of the bosses. And if we put pressure, we may be able to make improvements to our rights.The government does not publish the new labor law that it works on. Depriving the general public of the opportunity to inform in a timely manner what plans to take power in this regard. And that there is room for concern and for organizing resistance is that in the draft-version of the law that the government has submitted to the unions and NGOs there are cuts in workers’ rights. Thus, for example, the government plans to abolish the workers’ nightshift ban in industry and construction. Why is the government planning this? So that the bosses can abuse the nightshift even more? And where is the alleged commitment to the advancement of women’s rights here? Or does it only apply when you take photos for March 8th? Night work is exhausting for everyone. Therefore, it must be limited to those jobs where it is required to work at night. And not to allow night work become the rule instead the exception, by introducing a new law.
Also, is there a return of some important right, or the introduction of a new right? No. For instance, for many workers, especially those with lower wages, it is important for them to get the salary for the work already done quickly. Now, it can legally be paid up to the 15th of next month. To some bosses, that’s a bit too much, and they decide to pay them a bit later. Although there is a fine of 3,000 euros for doing this. And imagine that situation. You have already done the job. And for that for that job, the law says that you can be paid regularly even 15 days later. No matter that in that period until the 15th of next month you might run out of money, you will probably have to borrow money from relatives, friends, and owe money in your local grocery shop. And you already have money that you have earned! Since it’s being done this way, why not legally determine the salary for the job already done is paid up the fifth of the month, and not to the fifteenth of the next month? Because it will not appeal to the bosses, therefore, without the pressure of the workers, the government will not change it.
We are also witnessing the utterly nonchalant attitude of the government towards the socially disadvantaged people. The government doesn’t work on increasing their social aid! Although they promised it! Although they already foresee budget funds for this! Families of four members who have a daily allowance of 200 denars for all four, or single ones who go through the day with 96 denars – have been waiting for the announced increase in social aid since January. But SDSM and DUI are being somewhat stubborn, so these people in need will probably get the expected increase with the May payment.
And imagine that situation. For everything that is in their interest, SDSM and DUI know how to reach an agreement. But they cannot seem to manage to reach an agreement on this issue for months. Because they don’t really care! Without pressure, the socially disadnvataged people will not even be able to get the increase of social assistance in May. They were able to go through the day with 100 to 200 denars? Well they could probably get by for another month. Until SDSM and DUI complete the most important things – for them. And beware of this moment. An additional 35 million euros are foreseen in this year’s budget to increase social expenditures. And since social assistance has remained the same for one third of the year, at the end of the year there will be a surplus in the budget in relation to this item of at least a third of the amount – unsatisfactory 11.7 million euros. Where will this money be end up? Where will they allocate this money? The Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, without pressure from anyone, is silent on this issue.
Another issue is more important than the presidential elections. Toshe Ilievski died a few days ago. Another young person has died because he wasn’t able to afford to pay for his treatment. And there will be more cases similar to this one in the future. In order not to be so, if we do not want to see this happen to our acquaintances, friends, our loved ones, we must organize and fight back!
The government, apparently in agreement with the bosses of the private healthcare institutions, announced yet another blow to public healthcare. That blow, advertised through the cute expression “public-private partnership”, could destroy public healthcare. The government says would be cheaper to pay private healthcare institutions, instead of investing in public healthcare.
It is nothing but an excuse for investing less money in public healthcare! And the goal is not to get citizens a better quality healthcare service. The goal is to divert public money into the pockets of the bosses of private healthcare institutions. The goal is to further weaken public healthcare so that it is even less able to compete with the private. And citizens, as always, will be the victims. Whoever has money will be treated. Those who don’t, will have to take out a bank loan, collect donations or – just die! We already see that it is so. Therefore, we must firmly stand in defense of public healthcare! More investment in public healthcare, not less, Mr. Filipche! So that Tamara, Toshe and dozens of other lives that have been lost without the citizens even finding out about them. Profits made at the expense of health, the lives of people, are profits covered in blood!
Views expressed in this article are personal views of the author and do not represent the editorial policy of Nezavisen Vesnik