Albanian Activists Campaign for a Living Wage – Exit
Albanian activists are campaigning and collecting signatures in hopes of getting parliament to consider introducing a living wage in hopes of EU 2.7million.
Left-wing Political Organization activists have been collecting signatures across the country and say they have so far collected 3,000 of the 22,000 needed to force parliament to consider a bill introduced as part of an initiative citizen.
Their request comes in response to the persistent poverty situation in Albania, which is further exacerbated by the global economic crisis. They propose to introduce a living wage for all citizens, which means that everyone has the right by law to earn enough to cover their basic needs as defined by current prices and conditions, combined with the inflation.
“Before the crisis, 10% of Albanian citizens lived below the absolute poverty line and 33% were considered relatively poor. The economic crisis and rising prices are making life unaffordable for the vast majority of citizens,” said activist Mirela Ruko.
It would provide for a minimum of 20,000 lek (EUR 160) for pensioners, the disabled, the unemployed, families on social assistance and single parents receiving maintenance from the other parent. This could also have an impact on the minimum wage, forcing it to be raised again.
“Determining the subsistence minimum is a fundamental social right, but in Albania this subsistence minimum is not defined,” the activists say, noting that they will continue to canvass for another two months to reach their goal, even if they don’t. expect to get the needed numbers sooner.
According to activists, their bill aims to reduce poverty and social exclusion of individuals and families in need.
“The subsistence minimum is a right enjoyed by the majority of peoples and countries in Europe and it is a delayed and violated right for hundreds of thousands of poor Albanians, who today, according to international reports, more than 50% of them are at risk of falling into poverty,” activist Klodi Leka told Exit partner Citizens Channel.
But activists have reported difficulties in gaining support from the public who say they are cynical about any changes. Despite this, pensioners have lent their support as they struggle to survive on 15,000 lek per month (110 euros).
“Retirees see the initiative with more interest. But young people also want to get involved. A lot of people who quit want to do something good for their country and for their family,” said organizer Arlind Qori. Other activists said there was also solidarity from the middle class who want to help, even if they are not struggling themselves.
Ruko added that this initiative has a significant financial cost for the government, which means that the law is unlikely to be considered, but they are determined to put it on the agenda.
Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe with up to 35% of the population living in poverty and 75% at risk. The minimum wage is set at around 240 euros per month, but many earn less in the informal economy.