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Macedonians Plan to Use Freedom of Information Act to Fight New Freelance Law

Image of protesters from the first march of part-time and freelance workers in Macedonia, December 2014. Photo courtesy of Akademik.mk, used with permission.

Image of protesters from the first march of part-time and freelance workers in Macedonia, December 2014. Photo courtesy of Akademik.mk, used with permission.

Almost 1,000 people in Macedonia have signed on to participate in a second protest of part-time workers and freelancers, scheduled for February 6. In the first protest in December 2014, several thousand people took to the streets of Skopje, marching against additional taxes and fees imposed by new government regulations, effective as of January 1, 2015.

Due to ambiguities in the new regulation and lack of coordination between government agencies in implementing the new law, payment of fees for part-time and freelance work for certain categories of workers were blocked in the last days of January. META.mk news agency recently reported:

In the longest month of the year, freelancers who have fees higher than 9,590 denars [178 US dollars] will be left without income. Copyright agency “Berin” said that they received a notice from Pension and Disability Insurance Fund (PIOM) asking them not to pay fees higher than 9,590 denars until information on how the calculations would be made is not published on the website. As stated in the notice, the reason for this is the lack of coordination of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, PIOM and PRO regarding the new law, which provides freelancers to also pay pension and disability insurance.

What sets this new organized protest apart from others is that it uses innovative tactics: participants are preparing to ask the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy about the law's ambiguities using Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests. By submitting requests for access to information as to the reasons for the delay in payments, protesters aim to show the bureaucratic inefficiency of the ministry under what many say is an absurd pretext and absurd regulations.

Ајде хонорарци да одиме во МТСП и да си ги побараме одговорите што ни ги должат!
Цел јануари многумина од нас не добија хонорар, АЈДЕ ДА ПРАШАМЕ!
На некои им прекина авторскиот договор АЈДЕ ДА ПРАШАМЕ!
Не не прашуваа кога решаваа во лето да сменат 5 закони, ајде сега НИЕ да ги ПРАШАМЕ!
Петок, 6 февруари 11.00часот. Министерство за труд и социјална политика.
Имате формулари.
Имаме ПРАВО на одговори!

ДЕТАЛИ ЗА НАСТАНОТ
Секој хонорарец поднесува барање за информација од јавен карактер до министерството по што им се придружува на останатите кои стојат пред министерството. Поднесувањето барања се планира да трае два часа.
Урнекот на барањето за информации од јавен карактер можете да го преземете од коментарите. Прашања можете сами да поставите или можете да преземете некое прашање од листата што исто така ја имате како коментар.

Come on freelancers, let's go to the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy and demand the answers they owe us.
Many of us didn't receive pay during January, let's ask them why!
Some of us had our contracts discontinued, let's ask them why!
They didn't ask us when they decided to change five laws last summer, let us ask them now!
Friday, February 6 at 11:00 p.m. Ministry for Labor and Social Policy.
Use the forms enclosed.
We have the right to answers.

EVENT DETAILS
Each freelancer will submit a FOI request to the ministry and then join the rest who will stand in front of the ministry. The submission process will take about two hours.
The template for the request is enclosed within the comments of this event [available in Macedonian and Albanian]. You can choose your own questions or copy some of the list which is also enclosed.

According to Macedonia's Law on Freedom of Access to Information of Public Character, state bodies are under obligation to respond to written FOI requests within 30 days. Those who submit the request in person orally should receive responses within five days. More information about the FOI law is available on the website of Commission for Protection of the Right to Free Access to Public Information and the informative civil society portal “Right to Know.” Several hundred, if not more, FOI requests are expected to be directed at Macedonia's government through this protest. 

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