500 retired teachers a year are being given unjust pensions

Since April, teachers who retired are not receiving a pension of 140 euros, but one of only 75 euros per month. Kosovo institutions are not recognizing seniority of work for the period between 1990-99, when these teachers were employed in primary and secondary schools in the parallel education system under the auspices of the Republic of Kosovo.

Although the Law states otherwise, pensions on these retirees’ accounts are being issued in the above-mentioned amount, in complete violation of the Law on Pension Schemes funded by the state. According to an estimation of the United Trade Union of Education, Science and Culture (UTUESC), a minimum of 500 teachers retire annually and are being compensated inappropriately to their years of service.

Isuf Alaj, a retired professor who worked for 35 years in education, says that ten years (90-99) of seniority have just been omitted from his record by the institutions. He says that he spent two years requesting from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology explanation as to why he’s not receiving a pension as a contribution-payer of 140 euros, but instead his receiving old-age pension of 75 euros (given to senior citizens who do not have sufficient working year prior to their retirement).

Alaj explains that the state doesn’t recognize the contribution of education workers, with the justification that they didn’t pay contributions to the state. The answer that MLSW gave us blames MEST. “We’ve been for two years the lists of education workers from MEST”, he says, quoting the response from the ministry.  

But according to him it’s just a game to waste time and not pay teachers. Alaj announces union measures, even radical ones, by a group of teachers from all the municipalities that joined forces to demand their rightful retribution.

But, union representatives claim that they “fought” with all in their power in order to have the work experience during 90-99 recognized. The only option now is to review the legislation, which, according to UTUESC and TUECK (Trade Union of Education, Culture of Kosovo), is being violated by the government.

Rahman Jasharaj, chairman of TUESC, says that from April of this year, 90 percent of retirees are receiving only the old-age pension. Jasharaj says that although there is a law to regulate this matter, in practice this is not happening. “Kosovo institutions are creating needless confusion, intentionally or not. With the involvement of UTUESC to recognize the contribution of teachers (90-99), and with a decision by the former Prime Minister Thaci, and later with the commitment of the members of the past Parliament of Kosovo, the Law on pension schemes funded by the state was amended. Article 8 was amended by paragraph 6, which states explicitly and precisely that when calculating seniority, the years 89-99 should be considered as vailed year of employment for all employees in the education sector, who worked at the time within the system of the Republic of Kosovo”.

According to UTUESC statistics approximately 500 teachers retire every year. But starting from April, 400 teachers have been affected by the non-implementation of Article 8 of the Law on Pension Schemes. “These teachers are told that they must have at least 15 years of work experience before January 1st, 1990. However, they were not able to work 20 years before the war, because of the regime at the time. Most of them were initially employed during 1981-82”.

Jasharaj reports that they have met with representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, as well with members of the Cabinet of Prime Minister, but again failed to correct the situation.

Faton Fetahu, legal adviser of Minister Arsim Bajrami, says that MEST has prepared the draft law on the status of Albanian education workers of the Republic of Kosovo from academic year 1990/91 to 1998/99. “The purpose of this draft law is the recognition of the educational system of the Republic of Kosovo, from the academic year 1990/91 to 1998/99 and determining the status and recognition of the work experience and contribution to building up of the Albanian education system during that time of occupation, in order to properly retribute retirees with appropriate pensions and other allowances for other identified categories. Now, after the completion of the drafting of the draft law, its financial review is in progress and in October it will be sent to the Government for approval, and to the Assembly for further consideration”, he stated.

However, during the Assembly meeting of 29 December 2014, the draft law for the budget of Kosovo for 2015 was reviewed and approved in the second reading. On that occasion, an amendment to recognize the contribution of pensioner’s experience in 1989-1999 was voted, and it includes employees of education, healthcare and others who have worked in the then parallel system of the Republic of Kosovo.

“Article 8.6 of the Law on pensions schemes funded by the state requires that with this law the work experience and retirement contributions of education, healthcare and other workers were employed in the system of the Republic of Kosovo to be recognized for the years 1989-1999”, states the draft amendment.

In accordance with legal provision, the Assembly of Kosovo was obligated to provide for the cost of implementation of the above-mentioned article in the approved budget. Why is this not happening then?

Anita Kadriu
Prishtina, september 2015