North Macedonia: Government must abandon dangerous labour law proposals

photo: ILO

The ITUC backs a demand by trade unions in North Macedonia for the country’s government to scrap dangerous changes to labour laws.

On 8 May, the government submitted proposed amendments to labour legislation to the Assembly of North Macedonia, with the intention of using a fast-track parliamentary procedure to pass the changes into law. If passed, the legislation would allow employers to increase working hours up to 60 or even 72-hours per week across all seven days.

Foreign, private-sector actors are suspected of pressuring the government to make the changes, which are contrary to international labour standards.

Trade unions are concerned that the changes would:

  • Increase the risk of accidents, injuries and deaths at work.
  • Jeopardise North Macedonia’s application to join the EU because the proposals contravene EU working time directives.
  • Particularly affect construction workers who already face extreme conditions caused by climate change.

ITUC Acting General Secretary Luc Triangle said: “The reform of the country’s labour legislation has been on the agenda of social partners for several years, but the recent direction taken by the government marks a clear deviation from their expectations and the principles of social dialogue.

“The low-wage, exploitative model promoted by North Macedonia has already led to a mass exodus of workers from the country. Nonetheless, instead of improving working conditions and promoting decent salaries, the government is looking to legalise exploitative working environments.

“This legislation is dangerous. The ILO has emphasised the importance of an eight-hour day and a 48-hour week to protect workers health and safety. The government of North Macedonia has a duty to uphold this and immediately withdraw this dangerous legislation.

“Then it must relaunch meaningful social dialogue with trade unions and other social partners to work on revisions to labour legislation that respect international and European standards.”

The ITUC’s letter to the government of North Macedonia is here.