Macedonia: 2nd SIDEMK Congress decides to reinforce forest certification and health and safety in forestry

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The 2nd congress of the Trade Union of Workers in Forestry, Wooden Industry and Energy of Macedonia – SIDEMK under the slogan “Together we are Stronger, Together we Continue”, took place on 24 April 2012 in Ohrid, in Macedonia. 38 Delegates, more than 90% of the 41 delegates, and guests including Ambet Yuson, BWI General Secretary, Jasmin Redzepovic, Assistant Education Secretary, Radomir Stevic, president of a delegation of the Forest and Wood Workers Trade Union of Serbia and numerous representatives of fraternal organisations from Macedonia attended the event. The congress re-elected Živko Mitrevski as president of the more than 2000 members strong and representative union. The 38 delegates adopted a Resolution on Forest Certification and also elected the Presidium and Supervisory Board.

The new Action Programme 2012 – 2017 focuses on


  • the development of internal democratic processes and strengthening of the unions organizational model, through organizing and recruitment of new union members, networking and new approaches towards workers,
  • trade union education and training,
  • international cooperation through sub-regional and global campaigns,
  • collective bargaining and increased workers participation,
  • transformation of the public enterprise “Makedonski sumi” and forest certification and
  • participation in the campaigns and activities of the SSM - Federation of Trade Unions, building a strong and representative union movement at national level.

The Congress adopted a Resolution of Forest Certification re-affirming SIDEMK's commitment in the forest certification process, requiring from the Government the promotion of forest certification that would guarantee the origin of forest products being managed under decent work conditions. The BWI is requested to continue its assistance to SIDEMK on forest certification.

“We have achieved significant results for and with our members in terms of collective bargaining and social dialogue and that has been of vital importance in keeping jobs and improving working conditions in times of economic crisis. However, in the area of health and safety we expect from the employers a more regular update of health and safety equipment, thus improving the health and safety. We will therefore continue our campaign on safe work organizing with joint on site inspections with the respective Government agencies, including the inspection of subcontracting companies in the forest and wood processing sectors. We will be working on this with our global organization, the BWI”, emphasized Zivko Mitrevski, while addressing the Congress delegates.

“Wood is good, decent work is better and sustainable forest is best, that’s why we have to work globally to stop climate change, stop precarious employment and witness every day fatal work place accidents and campaign for decent work and good care of workers in the forest. We are very proud that your leadership has initiated an important process of consolidation of your unions’ structure building up a more united and strong organization where global solidarity is at the center of workers struggle”, said Yuson.

Radomir Stevic said “We as workers and Trade Union representatives are interested in good and qualitative working conditions, decent wages and social security. Today the world of labour is thrown on feet and we must struggle at the local, national and regional level. Hence, let us work together supporting each other in our work for a better future of the workers.”

Before the SIDEMK Congress a high level meeting between Spiro Ristovski, minister of Labour and Social Affairs, the BWI General Secretary and the president of the Forest and Wood Workers Trade Union of Macedonia was organized on 23 April 2012, in Skopje. The Minister informed the BWI delegation on the progress made in the field of social dialogue through the national Economic and Social Council and the initiation of local and decentralized social dialogue structures. After a campaign of the Macedonian unions in 2011 a Law on Minimum Wage was agreed among the social partners and finally adopted. The importance of employment and decent work in green jobs linked to Macedonia’s efforts on sustainable forest management, and in huge public infrastructure projects, like in the Corridor 10 and 8 highway projects financed by development banks and EU funds, were identified as areas in which all the social partners at the local, national and international level, have to play an active role to ensure sustainable economic and social development in Macedonia.

In a press conference BWI General Secretary supported the country's continuous work on improving the social dialogue, including the recent ratification of important ILO Conventions, like the C94 on Public Procurement and C187 “Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006” of whose implementation in the national legislation is underway.

The BWI delegation visited the union and local management of the largest branch in the “Makedonski sumi” Public Forest Company in Kavadarci that employees more than 200 workers and with a high union density expressing its solidarity and discussing the main union activities and issues on site.

Macedonia occupies 2 543 200 ha of land. The total forest area amounts to 1.091.857,59 ha, from which 835.055,82 ha are totally forest covered area and 256.801,77 ha of the forest is non-covered forest area - bare lands. (Source 2008: Special Plans of Woods management). The SIDEMK initiated first talks on forest certification beginning of 2000 and is continuously lobbying and campaigning for sustainable forest management, with the support of the BWI, playing an active role in regional and global union cooperation on forest and wood certification.

ILO Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities - EU FRIEDRICH EBERT STIFTUNG Организацијa на работодавачи на Македонија etuc