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Monitoring the Decent Work Program for Political Parties in Albania, during the electoral campaign for the parliamentary elections of June 25, 2017

Monitoring the Decent Work Program for Political Parties in Albania, during the electoral campaign for the parliamentary elections of June 25, 2017

The Center for Labor Relations and Social Dialogue “CLRSD” with the support of the Olaf Palme Center Foundation was engaged during the electoral campaign for the parliamentary elections in Albania of 25 June 2017 for monitoring the political programs of each of the main political parties represented in the Parliament of Albania.

The focus of this study was to monitor the level of involvement of decent work and its four components on the agendas, political documents or public discussions of the main parliamentary political parties before and during the electoral campaign referring to plans for the next 4 years.

As one of the key elements of guaranteeing sustainable economic development and poverty reduction, decent work is comprised of employment, social protection, employee rights and social dialogue.

Albania is considered to be in the early stages of development in terms of its decent work agenda. The European Union Progress Report for 2015 clearly states that the government needs to do more to promote employment, occupational health, security issues and employee rights.

From reading the published party programs and political manifestos, it is concluded that the main forces involved decent work. However, they tend to address only two of the four components of decent work: employment and social protection. Social Dialogue and Employee Rights are not found in these political programming documents of the main parties.

The Socialist Party (the main left-wing party governing before and after June 25, 2017) has included in its special sub-chapter the employment and social protection policy. It focuses more on the role that Vocational Education and Training can play in narrowing the gap between what the labor market demands and what employees are offering. Also, this party views social protection, mostly in the form of cash support programs as a primary government obligation towards vulnerable groups and unemployed jobseekers.

The Democratic Party (the main right-wing party in opposition before and after June 25, 2017) focuses its program on promoting employment. In contrast to the Socialist Party, it sees hiring as a derivative of a well-functioning market economy rather than as a direct government responsibility. In the Democratic Party’s view, the best way to promote employment is to lower the level of taxation for entrepreneurship. However, the program also mentions the need for social protection as a mechanism that gives direction to cases of market failure. The Democratic Party also does not mention anything related to social dialogue or employee rights.

The Socialist Movement for Integration (left-wing party governing before June 25 and in opposition after June 25) had employment as the key pillar of the political program. It gives great importance to the responsibility the government has to guarantee employment opportunities, especially among young people. It also emphasizes the role of social protection, social solidarity as the main tasks of the state, as well as, though briefly, speaks of employee rights.

The Party for Justice, Integration and Unity (main small party) also mentions employment and social protection in its political program. However, it sees these two components associated with local government issues and not issues to be addressed as primary to central government.

Other parties rarely mention employment and never the other components. In conclusion, none of the monitored parties does not envisage in the programming documents the full concept of decent work with its four components.

The first monitoring phase included the period from April 18 to May 24, 2017, considered as the campaign’s threshold. The second phase included the full election campaign.

The Socialist Party raised its public attention and discussion on employment and social protection during the election campaign. The qualitative change in this discussion compared to the pre-campaign period lies in focusing mostly on social protection rather than on employment. The most frequently addressed period is that of the first two weeks of the campaign. Social protection remains the key issue addressed by the Socialist Party in the framework of decent work while employment remains in second place. Employee rights and social dialogue did not find room in public articulation either during the campaign, or in pre-campaign period.

The Democratic Party significantly expanded the use of decent work in campaign political speeches compared to the pre-campaign. Same as the case of the Socialist Party, most of the remarks were made in the first two weeks of the campaign but unlike the SP, the Democrats focus more on employment than on social protection. Again, employee rights and social dialogue are not addressed as an issue in campaign articulation.

The Socialist Movement for Integration was the only political force that held almost the same level of public articulation regarding decent work. There is an increase in the campaign period but not sensitive compared to the start of the campaign. In both periods, SMI has addressed only one of the components of decent work: that of employment policies.

It focused most on ways how the government could generate new jobs for young people and completely outgrow social protection. Only in one case, in April, it was mentioned the protection of employees at a public meeting.

The Center for Labor Relations and Social Dialogue (CLRSD) finds the opportunity to encourage political parties to include even more the decent work on their political programs.

CLRSD is committed to lobbying the new government that within its first year, it is possible to sign the Global Pact for Decent Work.

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