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Is it worth to be a worker in BiH? How are the workers protected? What are their rights?

Author: Mahir Sijamija, Op - Ed
What happens in case of an accident? Do the authorities care about the workers and their families? The answers to these questions are: it's not worth to be a worker in BiH, because you're not paid for your work. Some wait to collect their salaries for a long time, some never receive it. If they happen to injure themselves, or get ill, they have finished their work in the companies. The rights that they should have, they don't. Several months ago, two persons died in Sarajevo due to the fall of the scaffolding at a construction site in the center, one dying at the spot, the other in the hospital. They were preparing the scaffolding for the future works on the building of a private entrepreneur. Two victims not paid for their work. Even if they were it would be under the average salary. Last year in September, in an accident in the Raspotočje coal mine in in Zenica, five miners died. Today, no one mentions them in the public, nor about the miners still working there, until the next accident. Between these two accidents, the public in BiH had many problems to solve. In October, the general elections were held, where the citizens of BiH elected their representatives that will solve their existential problems. In the focus of the campaign was the worker and his rights, his protection. All parties, from the right to the left, dealt with worker rights, promising EU integrations and a high level of worker rights. After their victory, until today, until this accident, there were no workers, no fight, except the fight for power, for the chair! At the end of 2014, the workers of the Aida company, after having demanded for their rights for months in the streets of Tuzla, asking for a onetime financial aid of 400 KM (around 200€) and to have the debt for their social security and pension fund accounts paid for, decided to leave BiH and headed to the EU border. As they said, they were on the way to find salvation from hunger in the EU. After walking to the EU border, the workers returned home with busses, not receiving anything. As they said, they lost everything, and every aspect of the fight is lost. Maybe this is the integration they promised, maybe! Currently in BiH, syndicates are in charge of protecting worker rights, the independent umbrella syndicate of BiH, as well as the branched entity syndicates. As everything in BiH is perplexed, so is this institution, which should be taking care of the workers. Currently there are two work laws, one for each entity. They guarantee rights of workers, but in the case of accidents or death at the workplace, the employer doesn't have any obligations towards the family of the deceased. The Union of independent syndicates has multiple times called for a law on protection of health in the workplace. They state that the draft law is in the drawers of the authorities since 2008, but that the employers say that the law is unacceptable as it demands high financial means. They ask themselves, I ask myself: what is the value of the life of a worker – a construction worker, a miner, a chemist, and a metal worker – and how many workers need to die so that the law would pass and mechanisms to protect workers and their families put in place? The fact that the two construction workers were not members of the syndicate, lies in the prohibition by the employer, to form a syndicate, risking the loss of employment, is also mentioned. We ask ourselves, are they workers at all? Do they have contracts? Are they a part of the undeclared worker population? The authorities, the citizens, the public, the media, everyone is fleeing from these important issues. They are only mentioned when an accident like this happens. The public is currently more interested in Sutorina, instead of the workers' rights to eradicate these accidents. They say that Sutorina can be prosperous for BiH citizens. The members of the initiative for the fight for that part of land unknown to me say that the citizens could go to the seaside, or even that that part could become a turning point to EU integrations, and a tourist attraction, as well as create new jobs. I wonder, if that piece of land and sea belongs to BiH, is the next fallen worker going to be the one that will drown while making ships for foreign investors? Is the BiH public finally going to deal with workers problems? What will happen to the families of the fallen workers? Will they have to eat? Did they lose everything in these accidents? These questions are surely important, but no, for the public Sutorina and imaginary capital that it brings (not) for the workers in BiH, but for the powerful from the chairs, as well as for foreign investors. Sutorina will end up belonging to someone, the chairs will end up belonging to someone, but where do the workers and their families belong in BiH?

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