To а worker

To а worker
Zdravko Saveski

We are patching up our lives. We live from day to day. We calculate how to get through the month, to make ends meet. We go to one market to buy a product, then go to another market, a cheaper one, to buy another product, in order to save 5-10 denars. One extraordinary expense can seriously burden the family budget. And bills do not wait. If you do not pay our bills, if they find that you owe just 1 denar, they will send you an enforcement agent and you will have to pay about 12,000 denars. Of the money you do not have. The savings are also thinner, you cannot rely on it anymore. And how to live like this? In fact, we do not live, we only survive. In hopelessness, powerless, lethargic thing to take, hoping something magical will happen to get out of this street. For work (if you do not have a party membership from the ruling party), you will usually wait a year, or two, maybe even three years. And when you finally find a job, you will be forced to be silent, to cling to your rights, to work overtime on holidays, without being properly paid, even trample on human dignity, you will endure it, and for what? You will watch your boss as he carelessly spends money, but he will always tell you that he does not have the money to pay you more. And he will brag that he is the one who provides bread for you, not that you are earning it yourself with your labor, your trouble, and that because of you, he lives luxuriously.

The union, if there is one in your company, it is either dealing with everything except labor rights, or its representative in the firm is the right hand of the boss or the director. Why are you paying a union membership fee of your already low wages? In order to receive some interest-free loans, Christmas gifts for children, pork halves at a discount? Is this what Syndicalism has come down to? What about the fight for labor rights? Even when you want to fight, you do not have anyone to to fight with, you are afraid (often with a legitimate reason) that your peers will leave you hanging the first chance they get. It’s better if you are silent, there is worse than bad, but who knows, maybe the boss will feel sorry, and throw you a bone?

Where is the help from the government? In Macedonia, for a quarter of a century, only clientelist parties are in power, who defend the interests of large capital. Do you expect them to help you? Yes, if you take out a party membership card and if you prove yourself in the service of the party, they will give you a job. And then they will expect of you to defend them on every occasion, claiming that black is white in order to defend your job, fearing that when the "others" come to power, they will take it away from you. But you do not want to serve a political party, you want to obey the laws and get a decent salary without threatening your dignity. If the law says that you have a certain right, and your boss respects it, and if he dares to break it, then the state will protect you. Excellent, but for whom did you vote for the election? For a party that has spent hundreds of thousands of euros, and even over a million euros for an election campaign? Where do they get that money, if not from the bosses? Why did the bosses give them their money, when they come to power to respect and promote workers' rights? Too naïve…

The helm of economic policy is given to the representatives of the large-scale capital, Angjusev as the current, the previous one was Pesevski, and you still hope that politics will be in the hands of the ordinary people, and not for the benefit of the bosses?

Yes, the Republic of Macedonia, according to its constitution, is a social state. This is enshrined in Article 1 of the Constitution. Not in Article 86, but in Article 1. And that means that any government that undermines the foundations of the welfare state violates the Constitution. Yes, there are laws, there are collective agreements that give you rights. But those rights are fewer each day. While your attention is drawn to national issues, while they are defocusing you with NATO, the MPs in the Assembly will raise their hands and will diminish some of your rights. And those rights that remain are not respected in reality. Where is the Labor Inspectorate? These "new" left the old director of the Inspectorate as the head of the institution. The one that was appointed by Gruevski's government and who, before becoming the director of the Inspectorate, was the director of a private company for 10 years. You expect him to protect your rights? Or, by labor inspectors who have many examples of how they were bribed by the bosses, for cheap change, so they look away? Yes, I also know labor inspectors who do their job worthily and diligently, but generally the labor inspectorate is not at the level of the task at all.

The new government promised a lot. In the government program, they wrote that they would bring legal changes by which the fixed-term contracts after six months would have to be transformed into employment for an indefinite period, they wrote that they would pass a new Law on Labor Relations dedicated to providing real protection for the workers, even wrote that they will introduce a minimum adequate income. It is in the government program. It's been 11 months, almost a year, and there still no sign of it. And some of the measures, such as the one for the transformation of employment from a fixed to an indefinite time, do not require time or preparations to be implemented. The only thing they need is will. But they will be most grateful if we forget everything, if no one reminds them what they wrote in their program. And in the meantime, they will waste money on travel expenses, tenders, lunch and dinner on your account, while you start to save even on food.

Yesterday was May Day. Your day. Maybe you had to work. Sometimes your line of work requires you to, but sometimes everything comes down to the boss’s hunger for profit. For him to earn a little more money, you have to work holidays, as well as on your day. According to a collective agreement, he has to pay you 50% more for working on holidays, but if you do not ask for it, even if you do not even mention it, how can you expect that he will be happy to pay you what you deserve?

If you were not working on May Day, you probably went to a picnic, celebrated the holiday "traditionally". You undoubtedly deserved the time-off. You are exhausted at work, you are human, you deserve rest, to see your friends, to enjoy yourself in nature. But you notice that the festive dinner is becoming more modest each year. Some of your friends, unemployed, already miss out on May Day. It’s expensive for them. And you ask yourself ... to which low will we get in the years to come?

You should have come to the May 1st protest. Especially if you were in Skopje. You could go on a picnic Sunday and protest on Tuesday. This way, we were still not as many protesting as we could have been. And because of this, this government will not feel the pressure to work for the benefit of the people. Again they will throw crumbs at us and convince us how good they are, because they still managed to throw some crumbs. For anything more than that, we need more engagement. But, they killed your belief that it can be essentially better. Unless you move out. And that's why you do not see the point of going to protests. But you should know one thing: how do you expect your worker's rights to be respected if you do not give them the right significance? And who will fight, if everyone goes away? Rights are not given, rights are taken. And we always get as much as we fight for.


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