As the Parliament debates a set of amendments meant to facilitate the work of the American Bechtel company on a large highway project, VMRO-DPMNE revealed a clause in the contract that would allow the company to collect over 50 million USD in damages if the amendments are not adopted.
Specifically, Bechtel wants a change in the labour law that would allow it to have its workers work 60 hour a week, instead of the legal cap of 40 that is in force now. In the contract, signed by the Government, there is a clause of damages of 53 million EUR that Macedonia will pay to Bechtel, plus additionall annual smaller sums. The amendment has to be adopted 45 days after the signing of the contract and the slim ruling majority is frantically trying to fast-track the amendments through Parliament. Also, if the amendment does not pass, Bechtel will get additional two and a half years to complete what is supposed to be a five year project.
VMRO-DPMNE President Hristijan Mickoski said that Dimitar Kovacevski and Artan Grubi will have to be held responsible for their handling of the contract and these obligations they undertook without consulting Parliament first.
From what we can see in the contract, if we don’t amend the law on labour relations in 45 days of the signing of the contract with Bechtel, and if we don’t extend the work week from 40 to 60 hours, then Macedonia will have to pay at least 53 million EUR in damages. The Constitutional Court has reached decisions on this issue many times in the past. The Government knew this is an impossible obligation but still they created an obligation against the public budget to potentially pay hundreds of millions of euros in penalties, Mickoski said.