1- Minister Veliaj shows the work of his cabinet a week before resignation
In the first days of April, the Council of Ministers approved changes considered important and foresee positive innovations in the Labor Code. After 18 months of intensive work, exactly 1 week before the official candidacy of Minister Veliaj for Mayor of Tirana, work was completed and the Labor Code was ready for approval. Eleven innovations the Labor Code introduces foresee positive changes, especially in the relationship between employer and employees. Concretely, under the new code, each employee enjoys the right of annual leave and there is a sanction of financial compensation for days off from the employer, every 6 hours of work the employer is obliged to guarantee a period off for the employee, both parents enjoy the right of maternity/paternity leave for a newborn, also after return from maternity leave after 63 days, parents have the right to take two paid hours off every day. Parents will have the right to obtain double medical leave, for children until 6 years old. In addition, the new Code abides by law the change of contracts only by writing, a development that foresees the protection in the workplace and judicial processes for employees. Another innovation are also temporary labor agencies which will enable legal protection to people that until now have worked unprotected (plumbers, electricians etc.). For the first time the new Code will regulate distance work by enabling more protection for those, especially young people, who work from a distance (with a computer). Another important element is professional education, where students will get paid for their internship. In addition, the Code clearly defines cases of ‘’sexual disturbances’’ in the workplace. Veliaj praised the initiative of his Ministry to change the Labor Code as one of the foundations to consolidate the employment system, more guarantees and protection for employers and called the draft law a ‘’modern document that will offer enhanced protection for employees’’.
2- ‘’Applauding’’ month for the Minister
April days were officially the last days for Minister Veliaj in the leading post of this Ministry. Aside from many irregularities, unfulfilled promises and unfinished programs, there was not a lack of successes. The last meeting between Mr. Veliaj and the National Labor Council started with congratulations from Mr. Luan Bregasi, president of ‘’Business Albania’’, directed to Veliaj, calling their cooperation efficient and the work of the Ministry was positively evaluated, calling them ‘’good listeners of concerns’’ and emphasizing their maximum seirousness in facing problems. ‘’Applauds’’ for the work of the Minister continue from other partners of the National Labor Council, a positive note was also given by the Director of the Confederation of Trade Unions, Mr. Kol Nikolla, who emphasized reforms as the key success of the Ministry, and emphasized that these reforms touch real lives of citizens and workers. However, Mr. Nikolla seemed to have left complaints for other meetings in order not to break the tradition of congratulations and applauds!
Another important achievement of the Ministry during April was concluding negotiations with Canada regarding pensions for more than 20 000 Albanians living and working in Canada. The agreement was the eighth in a row this year. Albania has already signed agreements with Turkey, Belgium, Luxemburg, Hungary, Czech Republic, Romania, Macedonia and the agreement with Germany which is in the final stage of negotiations.
Another success marked this month was the memorandum signed between Minister Veliaj and the Director of the Albanian American Development Foundation AADF Mr. Granoff, an agreement that aims to promote deepening education for young people with skills in entrepreneurship.
‘’Why abandon your motherland when you have guaranteed welfare from the government?’’
World Happiness Report 2015 ranks Albania 95th among 158 countries in the world, published on April 23, 2015 from global Gallup surveys (United Nations). Kosovo ranked 69th, Serbia 85th, Macedonia 93rd, Montenegro 83rd, are some of the countries of the region ranking better than Albania in the report, which evaluates important indicators in measuring hapiness of the population, welfare, social and economic support and GDP. To add to the list of disappontments, the EUROSTAT report evaluates Albania as the country with the lowest minimum wage among EU member states and candidate states. With only 157 euros per month as minimum wage, how can a population expect welfare, if their income is not enough to feed a single inhabitant in the country?
In contradiction to this report, government officials deny the fact that immigration and asylum seekers in Western countries are a result of bad management of budget income, lack of economic assistance and unemployment. In a declaration, Veliaj divided Albania into areas of DP and areas of SP. The Minister forgot he was still part of the government and responsible for the welfare of northerners and southerners alike, by declaring that immigration is higher in northern areas directed by the Democratic Party and that they should reflect on the past 8 years of their government, which have brought misery everywhere in Albania according to him. From what was served to us in the media and TV we are all aware that Pogradec, Vlora and many cities in the south filled boats until the 2000’s, but the Minister blamed the former government, even though he is head of social welfare for two years now. Neither the Minister, nor the Prime Minister took the effort to launch a call to the Albanian people not to abandon their country, committing to fulfil their electoral promises of 2013, but they continued blaming others. Part of the blame was also shared with European citizens, who apparently influence people from developing countries to immigrate to the West in order for them to fulfill their labor market needs.
The Ministry continues to insist on achieved objectives in increasing employment, assistance towards pensioners and the reform of digitalized social assistance, considering these objectives are a success story for the two year period and dismissing any accusation for lack of implementation of programs. Another suspicious case that the Minister uses social media and the official website of the Ministry to demonstrate the work done regarding employment was that of April 22, when he was invited to hold a speech in a Work Fair organized by one of the universities in Tirana. The following day in social media he published a photo album with the capture ‘’Thank you to students and 51 companies for the work fair; We believe in actions, not words. In 2015 we tripled the Fund for Boosting Employment by creating real employment opportunities for young graduates.’’ When the Ministry had no part in organizing or financing the event how did it contribute to the employment of these students? This is a question that raises doubts for other similar cases, since the same event took place a year earlier.
Changes in the Labor Code
The Ministry’s achievements in April