Sunday, May 26, 2024

THE NOISE FOR ETHNIC EMPLOYMENT IN PRIVATE COMPANIES

There are at least four concessions that government representatives made when opening this topic, which is extremely important both for the country’s integration into the European Union (EU) and for ensuring equal employment opportunities for all citizens of Northern Macedonia.

 

Author: Xhelal Neziri

 

The debate on discrimination on ethnic grounds in private companies apparently opened badly, was misunderstood and is creating an environment that does not deliver the expected results. The Macedonian public opinion assessed the insistence on ethnic employment in this sector as excessive, while a part of the Albanian public commented as an insult because quotas are usually provided for social categories that can not compete in the labor market. The private sector, meanwhile, is silent and waiting for what the government will offer.

In its program 2020-2024, in the section “A society for all”, the SDSM-DUI Government has announced that it will “invite, encourage and cooperate with the business sector, ie domestic and foreign enterprises to support the relations of interethnic goods and values ​​of tolerance, representation and mutual trust in their work environments to benefit from all the human potential that our country has”.

So far everything passed without much fuss. The reactions came after a statement by First Deputy Prime Minister Artan Grubi, who warned that the government was considering subsidizing companies that would employ ethnic Albanians and members of other non-majority ethnicities in the country. Later, the Minister of Economy, Kreshnik Bekteshi, warned that these subsidies will begin to be distributed from next year. According to him, these state aids will be provided to all companies run or owned by a person from a certain ethnicity who will hire workers from another ethnicity. The next statement was that of the leader of BESA, Bilall Kasami, who also warned the promotion of employment of Albanians in private companies, emphasizing that the same are discriminated during the competition as some of them do not know the Macedonian language. As this wasn’t enough, followed the statement of the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs from SDSM, Fatmir Bytyqi, who said that it would be ungrateful for public money to be distributed according to ethnic criteria.

So, the debate on whether there is ethnic discrimination during employment in private companies with public authorization or where the state has shares (EVN, Telekom, A1, NLB Bank, Stopanska Banka, Komercijalna Banka, Sparkasse Bank, ProCredit Bank, etc.) was mixed with the lack of implementation of Albanian as an official language in the private sector, in accordance with the Law on the Use of Languages. An example from books on how to mix a cocktail with sensitive interethnic topics, which erupts like a clash in the public sphere that finally makes it impossible to implement equality in practice as a European value.

There are at least four concessions that government representatives made when opening this topic, which is extremely important both for the country’s integration into the European Union (EU) and for ensuring equal employment opportunities for all citizens of Northern Macedonia:

First, there is no study to see what the real percentage of ethnic Albanians and other ethnicities is in the targeted companies. Without concrete data, all public statements of discrimination are mere assumptions of daily politics.

Second, a detailed study of all job vacancies in recent years should be conducted to see if there are any indications of discrimination in the selection of applicants. It can analyze the language and media where the competitions were announced, the number of those who competed and were accepted according to ethnicity, the ethnic composition of the evaluation commission and the comparison of the biographies of those who were rejected and those who were accepted. This study, to be commissioned by the government, could be carried out by an independent entity, which would include the People’s Advocate, the Anti-Discrimination Commission, the Helsinki Committee, civil society and chambers of commerce.

Third, the partners of the ruling coalition were not coordinated during the opening of this topic, but seemed as everyone ran to gain some political points. Even the Albanian opposition MP Skender Rexhepi – Zejd said that this is the idea of ​​the ASH/Altenrativa coalition, which was stolen by DUI.

And fourth, before an idea can be unveiled to the public, there must be a concrete project. Just one sentence in the Government Program is not enough. The project justifies the action, defines the activities, the stakeholders and predicts the results that will be achieved.

There is currently no material needed for debate on ethnic discrimination in the private sector. Consequently, all reactions stem from prejudice, intolerance or fear of losing privileges.

Now when this debate is high on the public agenda, it is good to address the issue of the rule of law in parallel. So, the implementation of laws adopted by Parliament, as one of the main preconditions for EU integration. Apart from the non-implementation of the Law on Languages ​​and the non-functioning of the Language Enforcement Inspectorate, the Law on Protection against Discrimination, adopted since 2013, has not been implemented in Northern Macedonia. Based on this Law, the Anti-Discrimination Commission was established. In 2019, the Law on Prevention and Protection against Discrimination was adopted with amendments, but was rejected by the Constitutional Court after passing without the necessary parliamentary majority of 61 deputies. Now the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy has again proposed it for approval in Parliament in order to pass properly.

This law is called lex specialis by lawyers as it deals with all forms of discrimination. So do the ethnic ones in the private sector. Paragraph 2 of Article 3 states: “This law is implemented by all state bodies, bodies of local self-government units, legal entities with public authorizations and all other legal and natural entities in the field of: 1) labor and labor relations; 2) education, science and sports; 3) social security, including in the field of social protection, pensions and disability insurance, health insurance and health care; 4) judiciary and administration; 5) housing; 6) information and public media; 7) access to goods and services; 8) membership and operation in political parties, associations, foundations, trade unions or other membership-based organizations; 9) culture and 10) all other areas.”

The strict implementation of this Law can eradicate the alleged ethnic discrimination in the private sector, while the subsidies announced by the government are just throwing public money into the well of the capitalists. If we take into account the abuses of people with disabilities by certain companies, which engage them only to absorb state money, then even in this case we will have fictitious employment of Albanian citizens and others that will create an illusion eradication of discrimination.

As a reminder, in 2000 the EU adopted two pieces of legislation in the field of anti-discrimination, which are mandatory for all members and aspirants to join the Union: the Racial Equality Directive and the Employment Equality Directive.

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