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20:29, 16 August 2018 Thursday
11:55, 09 February 2018 Friday

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Bosnian workers go hungry in fight for full payment
Bosnian workers go hungry in fight for full payment

Hidrogradnja was once a jewel in the Yugoslav construction sector, an industrial mammoth employing up to 4,000 people.

World Bulletin / News Desk

"If we must, we will die for our rights," says Jasmin Arific. Every morning Arific and his former colleagues from the Hidrogradnja public construction company gather in front of the government's headquarters in Sarajevo to demand their pensions.  

But after Bosnia's war in the 1990s, business gradually went downhill like at many state-run firms hit by both the transition to a market economy for which they were not equipped, and mismanagement.

Eventually Hidrogradnja was declared bankrupt in 2016.

Two years on, Arific and his co-workers, eight of whom have been on hunger strike since January 29, are still fighting for what is owed to them.

"Our pension contributions were not paid since 2003," Arific told AFP.

"And on top of that, they owe us our salaries for 36 months," said the 51 year-old father of three -- his children are either unemployed or students.

He said that Hidrogradnja owed him 11,000 euros ($13,580) in back pay, a small fortune for a family of five living on the 205 euros that his wife takes home a month from working in a small supermarket.

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