On 1-2 March 2018, ETUCE member organisation SONK in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia invited the European Director Susan Flocken to visit its regional branch leaders and to discuss current challenges that the union and its affiliates are facing at national and regional level. Among the most pressing challenges count the low level of effective social dialogue, the increased number of young highly educated and trained people leaving the country to work abroad (brain drain) as well as recent dismissals of teachers in early childhood education and replacement by teachers on short-term contracts.

During her visit, the European Director met with the Minister of Education, Mrs Renata Deskoska and Mr Arber Ademi, Deputy Minister of Education. Highlighting the importance of effective and meaningful social dialogue in education, decent working conditions, including decent salaries and long-term contracts as prerequisites for quality education, the European Director presented the priorities of the ETUCE work programme, such as promoting democratic citizenship, inclusion and high quality teacher training. She emphasised the particular role of education trade unions which cover a broader range of areas than civil society and non-governmental organisations and underlined the need to discuss with the education trade union the impact of the planned reforms on those working in the sector.

The Minister explained that in light of the planned reforms the government had established three working groups in primary, secondary and higher education involving representatives of trade union organisations, amongst them the ETUCE member organisation SONK. Minister Deskoska also announced the government plans to solve the problem of fixed-term employment contracts, by granting consents for permanent employment of education personnel.

ETUCE continues monitoring the progress and further development in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.