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Albanian union saves 300 mining jobs

29 February, 2016IndustriALL affiliate the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Albania (SPMSH) saves 300 jobs in the Puka region.

On 8 February 2016, after five months of difficult negotiations, IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Independent Trade Union of Miners of Albania (SPMSH), signed an agreement with the BERALB company covering 300 miners in the Puka region (Fushë-Arrëz), at the headquarters of the Ministry of Energy and Industry of Albania.

The company, which has had a concessionary contract with the Albanian state for 30 years for the mines, wanted to close all the mines due to the low price of copper on the market. This decision would have severely threatened the livelihood of the miners and their families in what is one of the poorest regions in Albania, with a very high unemployment rate.

The agreement stipulates that no worker will be fired and that all workers will receive a basic salary, including payments for health insurance and the retirement fund, from 1 February 2016 to 22 June 2017, which is the period when the work of the mine will be suspended.

When needed, the miners will take care of the basic functioning of the mine to keep it ready for the safe continuation of the work, and after this period of suspension, or before, if the price of the copper increases, the 300 miners will return to their full time jobs.

It is a great victory for the SPMSH and unionists in Albania, as the president of the SPMSH and the union confederation BSPSH, Gezim Kalaja, stressed: “This agreement empowers the values of trade unionism in Albania”.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union’s assistant general secretary, said: “We congratulate our Albanian affiliate with this struggle and success story. They have shown the miners’ tradition and spirit in this union campaign”.

This agreement was reached after five months of negotiation, and after the protest held on 7 October 2015 in solidarity with the World Day for Decent Work which was supported by the ITUC and IndustriAll Global Union and its affiliates.