PRESS RELEASE on the occasion of International Day of Social Justice

Marking the 20th February – International Day of Social Justice, the Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro gives the following

PRESS RELEASE

“On the occasion of the International Day of Social Justice, celebrated on February 20th, the Union of Free Trade Unions of Montenegro appeals to the Government of Montenegro to finally start implementing and respecting the constitutional postulate implying that Montenegro is a state of social justice, based on the rule of law. Simultaneously, the UFTUM reminds the Government of Montenegro that, in December 2009, Montenegro passed the Law on Ratification of the European Social Charter (Revised) as an instrument that should transform the basic European social protection policy into constantly applicable national rules. Today, on the eve of the International Day of Social Justice, we cannot say that Montenegro, except formally as a contracting party, has accepted the effective exercise of the rights and principles guaranteed by the European Social Charter (Revised) as the goal of its policy. These principles and rights includes the following: everyone has the right to protection against poverty and social exclusion; everyone has the right to housing; everyone has the right to the highest possible standard of health; all workers have the right to a fair remuneration sufficient for a decent living standard for them and their families; everyone without adequate resources has the right to social and medical assistance; a family, as the basic unit of society, has the right to adequate social, legal and economic protection in order to ensure its full development; persons with disabilities have the right to independence, social integration and participation in community life.

Commitment to the aforementioned rights and principles cannot and does not imply mere adoption of strategic documents and action plans as well as formal amendments to legal solutions. This commitment is exclusively measured by the actual application of standards in practice, in which protection schemes and support under equal conditions are available to all citizens, and especially those belonging to the most sensitive groups.

Today, Montenegro is welcoming the International Day of Social Justice with the following data: more than 80,000 employees receive salaries below EUR250; 23.6% of the population live in the risk of poverty, while 10% of the citizens are at risk of social exclusion; every fourth citizen in Montenegro lives on the poverty line estimated at EUR174.75; approximately 38,000 pensioners receive pensions in the amount of EUR0 to 200, and additional over 30,000 pensioners receive pensions in the amount of EUR200 to 300; over 51,000 persons live on some kind of social assistance; over 41,000 unemployed persons are registered; 35-40.000 workers are within the area of informal work; minimum wage amounts to EUR193.00 and has not changed since 2013. This worrying data should be increased by an army of employees who have not been paid contributions for compulsory social security, a huge number of employees who do not have decent working conditions and even less decent salaries insufficient to satisfy the most basic existential needs. Such a gloomy picture is colored with the latest offer of the Montenegrin Electric Enterprise (EPCG), which drastically increases the price of electricity and which will, inevitably, result in the increase of price of other goods and service. Thus, this resource will be unavailable for all of the above-mentioned categories who have the lowest or no incomes, i.e. those who live or better to say survive from the social assistance.

Today, more than ever, the Government of Montenegro has to take responsibility for achieving a “society for all”, i.e. creating equal opportunities for all citizens, especially vulnerable or marginalized groups that do not have opportunity to meet the basic existential, cultural, economic and social needs. More than ever, concrete, and not only declarative, commitment is needed for the most urgent recovery of the economy, the creation of new jobs and the overall development at which center the equality, solidarity, respect for human rights, gender equality, the rule of law and human dignity must be placed.”