May 29, 2015

Sandra Obradovic's dismissal

The colleague Obradovic is a president of the representative TU in the most important company in Montenegro producing and processing the aluminum. Due to business problems that occurred after the privatization, the company introduced the Receivership (May 2013) in accordance with the Law on Bankruptcy, with the aim of its economic recovery. From the period of introduction of the Receivership until today, hired workers have not exercised right to annual leave, and this was the main subject of TU president’s efforts that she has been addressing to.
As president of the TU of KAP (which is currently the only TU in that company), a colleague Obradovic addressed the Receivership and KAP Management with a request to enable hired workers to exercise right to annual leave, which is one of the fundamental labour rights. In the letter TU president cites an extract from the Labor Law explaining the right to annual leave .
The Receivership rejects her request, claiming that workers in the receivership process are not entitled to annual leave .
Then, colleague Obradovic addresses to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare for protection of their labour right. The Ministry issues an opinion stating that hired workers are entitled to annual leave during the receivership. In their letter, the Ministry cites the Labor Law and at the end issues opinion that in the bankruptcy procedure employees also have a right to annual leave .
Colleague Obradovic again turns to the Receivership this time attaching the opinion of the Ministry saying that employees in bankruptcy also have a right to annual leave and expressing their expectation that the Receivership will comply with the legal provisions .
Revolted by President of TU of KAP’s persistence to exercise right to annual leave for hired workers, the Receivership suddenly dismissed her (she was informed that she would be dismissed on 30 March 2015 and she formally received the decision on employment contract termination on 31 March 2015). The information that she would be dismissed was published by Montenegrin media before even colleague Obradovic was officially informed by the Receivership on her dismissal. Colleague Obradovic was dismissed by unlawful Decision to terminate her employment contract, despite the fact that her work was still needed and fact that she was the president of the representative TU of KAP. The Receivership, as a justification for dismissal, states that employment contract was cancelled to colleague Obradovic due to further rationalization of production costs as well as achieving a more efficient and cost-effective organization of the work process. As stated by the Explanatory Note of the Decision, the Receivership decided that work of part of the Warehouse department (where colleague Obradovic worked) was no longer needed. However, media statements made by representatives of the Receivership, as well as the fact that a new employee was immediately hired for the position performed by colleague Obradovic (after she was fired), clearly show that the Explanatory Note is neither true nor based on real facts. Montenegrin media published the statement of the Receivership’s representative who said that these employees (among whom was colleague Obradovic) were dismissed because of the company’s need to rejuvenate the staff , as well as that colleague Obradovic was dismissed because she met criteria for early retirement (and it was better to dismiss her than somebody else). When it comes to discriminatory statement of Receivership’s representative about colleague Obradovic (this was just another in a series of discriminatory statements) saying that colleague Obradovic met requirements for early retirement, we would like you to have in mind that: colleague Obradovic is 45 years old, she is a single mother and she graduated at the Faculty of Environmental Protection 3 years ago (while she was working at the same time). Also, please note that Montenegrin laws provided the above-mentioned early retirement for thousands of workers who lost their jobs in the transition process and who, because of their age, have no chance for new employment. Also, this early pension is extremely low and insufficient for the minimum life existence. We emphasize this because the Labor Law and the General Collective Agreement protect the representative of the trade union from dismissal .
She files a complaint in court against this illegal decision within the prescribed deadline. Given that a key goal of the Receivership was to remove colleague Obradovic from the factory and thus decapitate the TU of KAP as well as intimidate and discourage union members in further activities and fight for their rights, the Executive Board of the TU of KAP (in consultation with the UFTUM) decided that colleague Obradovic should continue to perform function of president until the court’s final decision upon her complaint. On 30 April 2015, in the presence of the UFTUM leadership, colleague Obradovic tried to enter the TU premises since her function as a union president is not terminated by the decision on dismissal. Thus, colleague Obradovic submits a written request to the Receivership asking them to enable her to enter the union premises . However, private security at the entrance of the Aluminium Plant Podgorica did not allow her access to the TU premises, which, in addition to cancellation of employment contract, is a new evidence of anti-union campaign against her that has been lasting for several years.
The Receivership answered that they could not meet her request with incomprehensible explanation that premises used by the TU of KAP are privately owned, and that colleague Obradovic is no longer an employee of the KAP. Regarding this explanation, TU with any of the private employers has no TU premises in their possession, it is clear that the premises are in the possession of the employer. However, the employer is obliged, according to the General Collective Agreement of Montenegro and Criminal Code of Montenegro, to provide premises for work of TU. The UFTUM addressed the Montenegrin Ombudsman in order to enable colleague Obradovic to enter the factory and perform duties of the TU President.