ILO trains Albanian public mediators and conciliators to resolve peacefully labour disputes
Dispute resolution through mediation and conciliation is a mechanism which is both ancient and modern to the Albanian society. Centuries ago, the Canon of Lek Dukagjini, which was applied by men whose words and names were highly revered, was based on two important processes: forgiveness and reconciliation. This mechanism saved families from isolation and put an end to inter-tribal murders.
However, nowadays, issues are more complicated. The conflicts in labour relations, are now legal and the damage inflicted is both economic and psychological. Therefore, mediation and conciliation in labour disputes as an extra-judicial mechanism for the peaceful settlement of labour disputes need to be used to avoid situations where justice in courts is delayed for years and to prevent strikes. Labour dispute mediator’s and conciliator’s role in the society is important due to the mission they perform in preventing issues from escalating into conflicts and helping disputing parties to find consensual based solutions to their disagreements through dialogue and negotiation. The mediators and conciliators help in resolving labour conflicts, alleviating the burden of courts, reducing the economic costs for disputing parties and helping them to find positive solutions that would further strengthen industrial and labour relations and enhance social peace.
Marilda Gusmari is a public mediator for collective disputes for Durresi Region. She is one of the mediators and conciliators of the state provided mechanism for amicable resolution of labour disputes trained by the ILO in 2021, under the project “Access to Justice in labour disputes through mediation and conciliation”. Marilda is an employee of Durresi Regional Directorate of the National Agency of Employment and Skills, assigned the role of the public mediator of collective disputes, as part of the State Mediation Network. As soon as she was designated public mediator in 2021, Marilda attended for the first-time a specialized training programme on mediation/conciliation of labour disputes organized by the ILO in cooperation with the ITCILO and the Ministry of Finance and Economy. She successfully completed two courses on mediation/conciliation skills in 2021and obtained the certificate of achievement.
For Marilda, this training opportunity was crucial in developing her skills and knowledge to effectively perform her role as a mediator.
“These trainings have been instrumental in developing my knowledge and skills on mediation/conciliation of labour disputes. I have been able to apply the skills and techniques I learnt, with great results in a recent collective dispute I mediated between a trade union and private company operating in Durresi”.
This was the first case mediated by Marilda as a public mediator.
“The trade union referred the case for mediation because the employer was ignoring the request of the union and refused to seat in the bargaining table.As soon as I was assigned the case, I intervened and met with both parties (jointly or separately), facilitating the dialogue and helping them to understand the issues and clarify the options for resolving the dispute. Finally, within 10 days since my involvement the company accepted, and the parties agreed to seat in the bargaining table and to start the negotiation process for the conclusion of a collective agreement. The company employees 418 employees.”
Albania has established a free of charge, state provided mechanism for amicable settlement of collective labour disputes through mediation and conciliation under the responsibility of the Ministry of Finance and Economy, in charge of labour issues. The mechanism is founded on two pillars: the State Mediation Network composed of 15 mediators (3 mediators in the Ministry and 12 mediators in the 12 Regional Employment Directorates of the National Agency of Employment and Skills), and tripartite State Conciliation Offices (one in each of the 12 administrative districts of the country and a National Conciliation Office). Mediators and state conciliation offices complement each other in a mediation-conciliation process aimed at assisting trade unions, workers and employers to resolve collective labour disputes peacefully and out of court. Within this mechanism, state mediators and conciliation offices play an important role in helping disputing parties to find quick and effective solutions to labour disputes, while building stronger labour and industrial relations.
Dorina Nika, the project coordinator emphasizes the importance of strengthening the skills-based and knowledge-based competencies of state mediators and conciliators.
“For an effective amicable labour dispute resolution system, it is crucial that mediators and conciliators possess
and apply sound theoretical and practical knowledge and skills to achieve successful outcomes in mediation and conciliation procedures”.
The ILO, in cooperation with the International Training Center of the ILO in Turin (ITCILO) and local experts has developed and implemented, tailor-made training programmes on amicable settlement of disputes for public labour dispute mediators and conciliators. Through a series of specialized trainings, state mediators and conciliators are being equipped with knowledge, resources and professional skills to conduct mediation and conciliation procedures to resolve labour disputes. More than 80 labour dispute mediators, conciliators and labour administration employees from the 12 districts of the country were trained on mediation/conciliation skills and processes during 2021-2022.
On 3-6 October 2022, another group of 18 public mediators and conciliators will be coached and assessed in mediation/conciliation skills by a team of international experts through the specialized ITCILO certification course.
The International Labor Organization (ILO), through the project "Access to Justice in Labour Disputes through Mediation and Conciliation", with the financial support of the Government of Sweden, is supporting Albanian constituents to strengthen labour dispute resolution systems in Albania. The project aims to improve access to justice for all, including vulnerable groups of workers through peaceful settlement of labour disputes, collective bargaining and collective agreements, and the creation of informed policies on amicable settlement of labour disputes.