In the last seven months four workers have lost their lives and dozens have been injured at the construction of the highway between Bar and Boljari in Montenegro.
“Is this a project for the country’s development or a cemetery for workers? Shall this be the pattern in a country that wants to join the European Union?,” asked a representative of the Trade Union of Construction and Industry of Construction Materials of Montenegro (SGIGMCG) during a roundtable in the capital Podgorica.
For over a year the main contractor, The China Bridge and Road Corporation (CBRC), and Montenegro's Ministry of Transport have refused to cooperate with the union to improve the situation and reduce risks and accidents.
When the fourth worker was killed at the highway construction site on 26 April 2018, the public was informed in superficial statements that the worker “had been properly equipped and trained”. Such statements are misleading the public and blaming the victims by claiming that “he fell by himself, he was killed by himself”, according to the union.
“According to the national legislation of Montenegro, the main contractor, is responsible for health and safety of all workers engaged at the project, and we consider that not all necessary measures had been taken. There are serious failures in the organization of the system of health and safety. We have tried several times to establish cooperation with the CBRC related to health and safety issues, but every time we have been rejected, being told that it is not necessary, says Nenad Markovic, president of the union SGIGMCG in a statement sent to the European and international media and Chinese Embassies in South East Europe.
“It is high time for an immediate action by the CRBC and the Ministry to prevent injuries and losses of workers lives. The situation requires concrete measures of the Ministry to support the creation of a collaborative environment for engagement and social dialogue among the main contractor, CRBC branch in Montenegro and the Trade Union of Construction and Industry of Construction Materials of Montenegro (SGIGMCG)”, says Ambet Yuson, General Secretary of the BWI.
The Chinese EXIM Bank provided a loan of 800 Million Euro to the Government of Montenegro for the the Mega Highway project Bar - Boljari and its 43-km priority section (Smokovac – Matesevo). There are around 3500 workers on site. The majority of the workers are from China and only about 30 per cent are nationals from Montenegro.