Struggle for Pensions United Trade Unions

By , 21 Oct 2018, 21:53 PM Business
Illustration Illustration Pobjeda

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October 21, 2018 - Montenegrins will retire next year with 61 years of age and 40 years of service, while the age limit for retirement is halted for 66 years for a man and 64 for a woman, and for the average pension one-quarter of the lowest rates, unconnected years is excluded.

These are the results of the talks between the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare and trade unions, which at the beginning were determined not to give in to their demands, but social dialogue and the association of the two largest workers' associations gave a positive result. The age limit is reduced, while a 40-year pension is conditional on 61 years, and not 65 years as was initially stated in the amendments to the Law on Pension and Invalidity Insurance.

These are the sixteenth amendments to the Law on Pension and Disability Insurance Act, which, since 2003, when the "reform" Law on Pension and Disability Insurance Act was adopted, drastically tightened the conditions for obtaining the right to a pension and the calculated pension amount. The consequences of such a "reform" policy of changing the pension system threaten to disregard the existence of a Pension and Disability Insurance Fund, which would have the aim to obtain the right to retirees to provide a dignified life at the late age, when those people rely on their retirement as, most commonly, the only source of existence.

Trade unions and the Ministry of Labor have reached an agreement, and there are no protests and petitions to call for a national referendum, and talks on other proposals are continuing. The general secretaries of both trade unions agreed that social dialogue in Montenegro has advanced in the last two years and gives results. For the first time, the two trade unions jointly and decisively stood behind the demands.

"The Social Council session is expected to be held next week, after which amendments to the Law on Pension and Disability Insurance will be adopted by the Government and sent to Brussels," said the Secretary-General of the Union of Trade Unions of Montenegro, Dusko Zarubic.

He noted that they cannot be satisfied with the conversations because 100% of their demands are not fulfilled, but that somewhere the role of social dialogue and negotiation is that all parties are slightly or equally dissatisfied.

"This is the first time that the two trade union centers stood together at the very beginning and resolutely behind the demands, and this is what conditioned the result," Zarubica said.

On Thursday, the union leaders agreed and accepted the proposals of the Ministry of Labor, and as the General Secretary of the Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro Srdja Kekovic told Pobjeda, this was expected.

A number of trade union members thought that more could be achieved, but, as trade union representatives say, it is quite normal because they represent democratic organizations. They are convinced that the data on the number of those who voted to accept the results of the conversation in itself tells us that a result has been achieved.

"We had a lot of dynamic conversations and one campaign before that which was extensive. The fact is that in our suggestions to the Ministry of Labor, we focused on four of our proposals. The continuation of the discussion of other proposals was conditioned by the finding of a compromise solution in relation to these four. I think, as confirmed by the vast majority of the members of the leadership of the two trade unions, that we managed to find a compromise when talking about these four proposals," Kekovic said.

He emphasizes that 40 years of service for old-age pension insurance with a cumulative condition of 65 years was in the initial text of the law, while the remaining three proposals are in fact a novelty. This is something that the trade union centers demanded and these are the negative effects of the 2003 reform.

"After this reform, all the years of work have entered the base, and now we have managed to throw out one-fourth of those untied, worst-case years. The second that the 2003 reform brought was essentially increasing the age limit for 67 years, and we managed to stop them on 66 years and 64 for women," Keković said.

He says that it is important to explain, as many people are confused, that every citizen can work for up to 67 years, which is prescribed by the Labor Law, and these age limits leave the possibility if they want to get a pension before 67 years.

He adds that he will have another round of talks on the remaining demands, and then it goes to the Social Council session where employers as social partners will give the final say about everything.

Text by Pobjeda, on October 21st, 2018, read more at CdM

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