Workers labor on the construction site amid the ongoing coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in Pristina, Kosovo, 24 November 2020. EPA-EFE/VALDRIN XHEMAJ

Worker Fatality Rates Still High, BIRN Report Uncovered

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in collaboration with the Advocacy Training and Resource Center documented that the executive and judiciary in Kosovo have made minimal progress in addressing issues related to employment.

On Thursday,  Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN and Advocacy Training and Resource Center,  ATRC presented a report on the findings of labor rights and workplace safety for workers in 2023, titled “Victims of Injustice.” The report highlights that there has been limited progress by the executive and judiciary in addressing employment-related issues, particularly in workplace safety, where fatal accidents continue to rise.

“During the years 2021-2023, 33 workers have died from 763 workplace accidents. Statistics show that in the first six months of 2023, 9 workers have lost their lives. This indicates an increase in workplace fatalities due to accidents,” states the published report.

Over these two years, BIRN received over 300 reports from workers and whistleblowers, exposing violations of workers’ rights.

Data reveals that in 2023, the number of labor inspectors increased to 60, up from 37 in 2022. The rise in the number of inspectors should translate into more inspections and consequently, an improvement in the overall situation on the ground.

According to the report, data from the Inspectorate indicates an increasing trend in inspections over the years. In 2020, there were 3,832 inspections; in 2021, 3,022 inspections; in 2022, 6,316 inspections; and from January to October 2023, 6,347 inspections were conducted.

BIRN also found that there are no legal obligations for state institutions to inform each other about criminal violations discovered in workplaces. In the justice system, the report revealed that labor-related cases are considered a priority, but the data shows that the courts have neglected this priority, leaving citizens waiting for years for a resolution.

The findings of this report contain quantitative and qualitative data gathered from key actors, primarily the Labor Inspectorate, which plays a crucial role in protecting these rights, and up to the Ombudsman institution, which serves as an advisory body.

The government of Kosovo is slowly addressing the need for legal reform and increasing resources for inspection bodies. However, the Labor Law is still not harmonized with European Union standards, and the Minimum Wage Law is blocked in the Constitutional Court.

The European Commission’s report for Kosovo in 2023 notes that the country faces challenges in ensuring a suitable working environment for workers. The report observes that women and marginalized groups from the Romani, Ashkali, and Egyptian communities are discriminated against in the labor market. Legislatively, the European Commission’s report emphasizes the need to harmonize the Labor Law with the EU directive on work-life balance, which has yet to be approved.

This report was produced with the financial support of the European Union within the framework of the project ‘Protection and Promotion of the Labor Rights of Vulnerable Groups in the Labor Market.’ The content of this article is the responsibility of ATRC and BIRN Kosovo and in no way can be considered the position of the European Union.

and 14/12/2023 - 15:22

14 December 2023 - 15:22

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.