On January 24, BIRN held a conference for the launch of a report titled “Handling of Workers’ Rights Cases by the Labour Inspectorate and the Judiciary”.
In the current situation, amid ongoing accidents occurring at workplaces, there is plenty of room for improving and advancing workplace policies, it was agreed.
The 2022 report found that almost one person dies in the workplace in Kosovo every month on average, while only 1.5 per cent of businesses have fulfilled their obligation to assess the risks at the workplace.
Although there are no exact statistics on the number of unregistered workers in Kosovo, Labour Inspectorate data show that during 2021 alone, 1,459 employees were found to be working without employment contracts while 433 employees were not declared at the Tax Administration of Kosovo, TAK.
The findings of the report were discussed with two panels, including different actors from public institutions.
On the first panel, the main subject was the handling of workers’ rights by the Labour Inspectorate.
This panel was moderated by Jeta Xharra, executive director at BIRN Kosovo. Panelists included the Chief Labour Inspector Hekuran Nikçi, the General Director of the Tax Administration of Kosovo, Ilir Murtezaj, and Kastriot Berisha, legal officer at BIRN.
Chief Inspector Nikçi claimed that in June 2022, when he became the Chief Inspector, he found the office in a chaotic situation. Statistics show that 15 people died at work 2022, all in construction. Since 2016, 81 workplace deaths have been recorded.
After scrutiny of this report, it was concluded that Kosovo lacks a database of inspections about conditions at workplaces.
Nikçi said Kosovo still lacks inspectors in this field, despite progress that has been made since he assumed office.
This affects the implementation of a database, when there are not enough inspectors and no chance to inspect all businesses throughout the country in order to detect violations at workplaces.
The General Director of the Tax Administration of Kosovo, TAK, Ilir Murtezaj, said fines have been issued to many businesses that did not declare that their workers were working without contracts.
However, Kastriot Berisha, legal officer of BIRN, said cooperation between the Tax Administration and the Labour Inspectorate lacks coordination.
The second panel was moderated by Kreshnik Gashi, managing editor at BIRN. This panel included Jehona Grantolli, member of the Prosecution Council of Kosovo and Fahret Velija, Chairman of the Commission for the Administration of Courts and member of the Kosovo Judicial Council.
Gashi questioned the responsibility of the Kosovo judiciary, saying many businesses clearly manipulate and neglect the mandatory norms of workplace conditions.
The report noted that out of 27 court judgments analyzed regarding cases of deaths and injuries at the workplace, only four resulted in prison sentences. Of these four, two were prison sentences and the other two conditional imprisonments.
This activity was implemented as part of the project “Protecting and Promoting Labour Rights of Vulnerable Groups in the Labour Market”, funded by the European Office in Kosovo and implemented by BIRN Kosovo in partnership with Advocacy Training and Resource Center ATRC.
The overall report can be found at these links:
Report in English language
Report in Albanian language
Report in Serbian language