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Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia: legitimacy of EI affiliate questioned

After signing an agreement with EI affiliate SONK for a 12-percent salary increase for teachers in the next 12 months, the Macedonian government now questions the legitimacy of the teacher union.

In its two letters to the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, one to the Prime Minister and the other to the Minister of Labour and Social Policy, EI expressed satisfaction about the continuous talks between SONK and the government, but also shock at the latter’s attempt to deny the legitimacy of SONK. According to SONK President, Dojcin Cvetanovski, he has submitted the necessry documents to register the union according to the new Labour Law and has received a formal acknowledgement of his submission. EI urges the government to take the necessary measures to resolve the matter. Below are the two letters from EI in English dated 16 March 2006: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dr. Vlado Buckovski Prime Minister of the F.Y.R. of Macedonia Fax: + 389.23.11.25.61 / +389 2 3115 790 Brussels, 16th March 2006 Dear Prime Minister, Further to my letters of September last to Mr. Branko Crvenkovski, President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and your reply of 4 October 2005, Education International has continued to monitor the situation of our affiliate, the Trade Union of Employees in Education, Science and Culture (SONK) very closely. Naturally, I am pleased to hear about its continuous talks with your government. However, I must inform you that I am shocked by statements, reportedly made recently, by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy considering SONK as an illegitimate trade union. Mr. Cvetanovski, President of SONK, has confirmed that he submitted the necessary documents to register the union according to the new Labour Law. On 11 November 2005, he subsequently received from the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy a formal acknowledgement of his submission. Mr. Prime Minister, the good news was reported to me last week that you signed an agreement with the SONK President on a 12 percent salary increase for teachers over the next 12 months. In such a case, it does not make sense to again question the legitimacy of our affiliate, especially since the agreement was signed in the presence of the ministries of Finance, Education, Culture and Labour. I believe you would not have negotiated and signed an agreement with an illegitimate union. The Minister of Labour and Social Policy’s intention to have the legitimacy of SONK resolved in court appears to be legally unfounded and is perhaps an abuse of power. Therefore I urge you to intervene and have Mr. Cvetanovski’s SONK registered according to the Labour Law and without any further delay. I trust that you will also ensure that the agreement signed with SONK on salary increases for teachers is implemented as foreseen and that the union is allowed to carry out its activities without any further government interference. Thank you for your cooperation. Yours faithfully, Fred van Leeuwen General Secretary c.c. Mr. Branko Crvenkovski, President of the Republic, Fax: + 389 231 12 147 Mr. Stevco Jakimovski, Minister of Labour & Social Policy, Fax: +389 2 3220 408 Mr. Aziz Pollozhani, Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Fax + 389.23.11.84.14 Mr. Nikola Popovski, Minister of Finance, Fax: +389 2 3281 057 Mr Dojcin Cvetanovski, President of SONK, Fax + 389.23.22.46.38 ETUCE, ETUC, ICFTU ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mr. Stevco Jakimovski Minister of Labour and Social Policy F.Y.R. of Macedonia Fax: +389-2-3220-408 Brussels, 16th March 2006 Dear Minister, Education International (EI), the global union federation of teachers and other education workers, which represents over 29 million members in 161 countries and territories, counts the Trade Union of Employees in Education, Science and Culture (SONK) among its affiliates. Despite the good news concerning the agreement signed last week by the Macedonian government and SONK over salary increases for teachers, I am shocked by statements, reportedly made recently, by your Ministry considering SONK as an illegitimate trade union. Mr. Cvetanovski, President of SONK, has confirmed that he submitted the necessary documents to register the union, according to the new Labour Law, and that he received from your Ministry a sealed document dated 11 November 2005, proving that it had received the registration documents. Your intention to have the legitimacy of SONK resolved in court appears to be legally unfounded. Therefore I urge you to immediately take the necessary measures to have Mr. Cvetanovski’s SONK registered according to your Labour Law. Thank you in advance. Yours faithfully, Fred van Leeuwen General Secretary cc. Mr. Branko Crvenkovski, President of the Republic, Fax: + 389 231 12 147 Dr. Vlado Buckovski, Prime Minister of the F.Y.R. of Macedonia, Fax: + 389.23.11.25.61 / +389 2 3115 790 Mr. Aziz Pollozhani, Minister of Education, Science and Culture, Fax + 389.23.11.84.14 Mr Dojcin Cvetanovski, President of SONK, Fax + 389.23.22.46.38 ETUCE, ETUC, ICFTU