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President Pendarovski visits the Federation of Trade Unions of Macedonia

25 November 2019 | Press release, Speeches

The President of the Republic of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, paid a visit today to the Federation of Trade Unions of Macedonia.

In his address, President Pendarovski said that the successful economy and development of North Macedonia are closely linked to labor relations regulation and the solid and sustainable labor and legal framework for workers.

Below is the text of President Pendarovski’s address.

Dear President of the Federation, Darko Dimovski,
Distinguished presidents of branch unions,
Dear media representatives,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I just cannot believe this is the first visit ever in history. On the one hand, we say we are at a historic point, on the other, I say it openly in front of the cameras, it is shameful for the state, for everyone before me in any capacity, if this is true, I suppose it is a checked fact, not to come to the oldest and largest trade union in the country, but to talk that you are working for the rights of the citizens and the people living in this country; it simply does not go hand in hand.

Thank you for the opportunity to address you, here in your seat, and I would like to apologize at the outset for not being able to visit you sooner. I have been in this post for six and a half months and I do not want to justify the tight agenda and the timetable we have had especially in foreign policy terms, as you know what was going on there. My mistake is, I should have come earlier, but even now I think it is not too late and what matters is that I am not coming in the pre-election period, my elections are not ahead and that means I do not get points for talking to you. Here I had the opportunity to meet with the first people of this organization, at least 15-16, it is an organization that unites Macedonian unions and protects and fights for the improvement of workers’ rights, and thus directly contributes to the development on the country. It is clear that without regulated labor relations, without firm and sustainable, and I would say predictable labor-legal framework for workers, we cannot have a successful economy, no developed state, no happy citizens indeed. As our society went through various stages of transformation, through a long and slow transition process, which is unfortunately not yet complete, this union also adapted to the new social trends and to the change of ideological matrix in order to find its place in the democratic environment, in the developing democratic society, in the liberal economy that needed intensive growth. Practically, the power and role of the union in socialism has now been changed and channeled to another level, and I believe that at last both public perception and expectations are appropriate to the present moment and capacity. Of course, most importantly, despite all the changes and turmoil, the unions are organizations with a strong and stable infrastructure that actively participates in the adoption of legal solutions, representing the rights and interests of workers. It is the trade union that is the government’s partner in adopting the new labor law. I sincerely congratulate you on the acceptance of your twenty proposals. There are still many quality proposals that the government should consider and I believe there are opportunities for further negotiation and bargaining. Employers undoubtedly have their own visions and understandings and protect their interests, that is logical, and their demands are to be taken into account. But I say that we as a state are mature enough and ready, both legally and in practice, to provide European standards when it comes to workers’ rights. Despite the high unemployment rate, we are witnessing a labor shortage in some scarce professions and occupations and we must protect our workers and offer them optimal conditions to stay in the home country rather than work abroad. We just have to invest the maximum in human capital.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

You know that my function is limited in terms of competences and executive solution capabilities. We are not a presidential system, but according to my powers and capabilities, of course, I would like to assure you that I am here to listen to you in order to contribute to these processes later, to facilitate dialogue and cooperation with the authorities, to listen to every initiative, every proposal, every suggestion in order to help find the best solutions. I want to assure you that you have an ally in me in achieving your goals, i.e. in the protection of workers’ rights. I must emphasize that besides the adoption of improved legislation that will enable the realization of workers’ rights and the protection of those rights from possible violations, it is absolutely necessary the legal solutions in practice to be implemented, i.e. to have consistent implementation.

However, I would like to assure you that without hearing the voice of the workers, without hearing their representatives, or the unions, it will be impossible to build a just society and in that respect I thank you for the chance to see you today, to hear each other.

Thank you.

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