From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Prosecution Drops Investigation into Albchrome’s Protesting Miners The Albchrome mine in Bulqize.

The prosecution in Dibra has dropped the investigation into several miners who were accused of organising and taking part in protests against the Albchrome mining company.

The miners were arrested in early December during the protests and investigations began into six participants and a member of Organizata Politike that had been supporting them. Those investigated were members of the newly formed Bulqiza United Miners’ Union (SMBB).

The decision not to initiate a criminal report and to terminate the investigation into them was made on 30 December 2019 and has been made public by the SMBB.

“The slander of Albchrome and its servile union ends: the miners’ protest was legal! On December 4 2019, following a banal indictment filed by Albchrome in cooperation with the police, the Dibra Prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into possible criminal proceedings against union leaders and ordinary miners who were protesting peacefully in front of the mine.

After nearly a month-long investigation, on December 30, 2019, the Dibra Prosecutor’s Office has concluded not to launch criminal charges against the unionists, calling them unfair and unfounded legally!

After endless slander and pressure on the workers, the truth has come to the fore. Where is the company that is self-serious about the seriousness and its pseudo-unionist partners?”, reads the statement from the SMBB.

The SMBB was formed in October last year but a few days after it was publicly announced, the head of the union Elton Dobreshi was fired from his job. Protests ensued as members asked for pay rises, a revision of labour rates and the return of Dobreshi to his position. Albchrome responded by firing three other founding members of the union and denying that their recent unionisation was the reason behind it.

Just over a week ago, two miners in the Albchrome mine were injured in the line of work. The incident came two weeks after the serious injury of another miner. The new union claims that since 2013, eight miners have lost their lives in Albchrome mines yet the company continues to blame the workers.

In the case of the most recent injuries, Albchrome published a photo of a handwritten declaration from Asqeri Cupi, taking full responsibility for the injuries of his colleagues, noting that he declares such “with my free will and without any external influence whatsoever.” 

Albchrome is owned by Samir Mane, one of the richest persons in Albania who owns not just the mines, but a string of businesses including TEG, Neptun, Spar, Mango, and Tirana Bank.

Following the dismissals and protests, a number of citizens from leftist civil society group Organizata Politike have been protesting against Mane, placing banners on Skanderbeg Square, and graffiti on walls around the city. Some members handed out flyers at TEG, owned by Mane, and were arrested on charges of “causing a panic” and “disturbing the public peace”. 

OP has also claimed that men, paid by Mane were sent to loiter outside their headquarters in Tirana in an attempt to intimidate them.