Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Post-bankruptcy workers spend 100 days in tents, no solution in sight

The authorities made no proposal to alleviate the grievances of post-bankruptcy workers who have spent the last 100 days in tents near parliament building in downtown Skopje.

"In principle, the government shows willingness to solve our problem, although no concrete proposal has been made after 100-day stay in make-shift tent site outside parliament building," Stojan Stojanov, the head of association of post-bankruptcy workers with more than 25 years of service, told Makfax news agency.

Stojanov met today with representatives of government ally NSDP and he was told that the subject was discussed Monday at the meeting of DSDP leader Tito Petkovski, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and DPA's deputy head Menduh Thaci.

"There is a possibility that a draft-law on pos-bankruptcy workers be put on the agenda in the parliament. The motion is likely to be supported by the ruling VMRO-DPMNE. However, PM Gruevski said the biggest problem is to define the number of post-bankruptcy workers, noting that the state-run Employment Agency cannot define the exact number," Stojanov said.

According to Stojanov, the number of post-bankruptcy workers with more than 25 years of service ranges 5.000 to 6.000. They demand monthly bonus amounting 40 percent of the average salary in Macedonia as long as they find a new job.

Some 30 post-bankruptcy workers protest outside the government in 15 tents set up in make-shift tent site. Their health condition worsened as temperatures rise.

They collect money in a cardboard box to buy bread. The locals put few denars into the box.

"We collect 200-300 denars (app. 5 euros) a day to buy bread for the next day. We leave the bread overnight because we eat less when the bread is not fresh," said Isen Fetai, the deputy head of the association, adding that high-school students are most generous.

Skopje Mayor Trifun Kostovski visited the tent site last week and donated food and medicines. The St. Petka church also donates food. The famous opera singer Boris Trajanov is a frequent visitor and donor to underfed protesters.

They protesters made it clear that they will stay outside parliament building as long as the government upholds their demands, or at least be given a concrete proposal or promise to meet their demands.

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