From: Alice Elizabeth Taylor
Labour Inspectorate Rules That Firing Unionised Miners Did Not Violate Their Rights

The State Labour Inspectorate has concluded that the dismissal of four miners, just days after they formed the Bulqiza United Miners’ Union (SMBB), did not violate their rights.

Closed on the 27 of December, the investigation into Albchrome and their action led them to conclude that the company had not violated or interfered with the union’s business activity and that they had not been notified in writing of its founding.

“We have failed to prove any of the alleged violations by the miners, part of the SMBB. This is because the company has not been notified in writing and according to the procedures provided in the labour code of the Union,” Roland Kurti, Regional Director for the Inspectorate told BIRN.

The Bulqiza United Miners’ Union reacted by calling the investigation “shallow and biased” and said that they cited false facts with regard to when the union was created. Miners from the SMBB previously told Exit that they do not trust the Inspectorate not to be influenced by Albchrome’s owner, Samir Mane, one of the richest people in Albania.

Albchrome welcomed the report and described the protests of the SMBB as destabilising efforts. Rival Union, the Trade Union Federation of Industrial Workers of Albania, which SMBB has accused of not representing miners’ rights, claimed the report showed that the SMBB protest was legal.

This is despite the fact that the Dibra Prosecution found that the protest was legal and dropped further investigations into the miners that were arrested following protests in December.

The SMBB’s formation was announced on 17 November and just a few days later, Albchrome fired its Head Elton Debreshi and three other miners. Peaceful protests ensued and the SMBB demanded better working conditions, a revision of labour rates and the return of Dobreshi and the other miners to their positions.

Yesterday, the Union published a list of monthly salaries calling them “ridiculous” when you consider the type of work, the dangers, and the hours of work.

“Miners have to go hundreds of feet underground, work over 20 days a month, three shifts, more than doubled the rate, and still get the ridiculous salary you see on the paper… Unite to Escape from Slavery!” their post said.

Salaries, according to the published sheet range between 39527 ALL (€323) 94292 ALL (€772) with the majority falling between 40000 ALL (€327) and 58,000 ALL (€475). Mining is considered as one of the most dangerous and hazardous jobs in the world.

The Union claims that eight miners have lost their lives in Albchrome’s mines since 2013 and many more have been injured. Three miners have been injured in the last three weeks yet the Union claims that Albchrome insists on blaming employees.

In the case of the most recent injuries, Albchrome said it was the fault of an employee named Asqeri Çupi. They published a handwritten declaration from Çupi in which he took full responsibility for the accident “with my free will and without an external influence whatsoever”.

Since the miners started their protests, members of Organizata Politike have been protesting against Mane and calling for a boycott of his businesses including TEG, Spar and Neptun.

After their action began, OP claimed that men, one of which reportedly admitted to being paid by Mane, loitered outside their headquarters in an attempt to intimidate them.