Disabled workers on hunger strike in Banjaluka's Institute of Dystrophics, Republic of Srpska in Bosnia and Herzegovina

In Banjaluka, the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovinia, employees in the Institute for Dystrophics are on hunger strike, following a row over job losses. Employees blame management for the situation. The Institute faces bankruptcy and residents are threatened with life on the streets without jobs and without a place to live.

The Institute opened in 1989 as a unique example of the social model of disability and inclusive practice. Persons with Muscular Dystrophy who were alone or lived in inaccessible places or with older parents, came to this Institute for accommodation and employment. The Institute provided shelter and protection for residents during the war.

The 23 severely disabled persons will not give up their demands for the return of their colleagues to work and the involvement of two disabled persons in a bankruptcy group who will protect the rights of disabled workers.

Mr. Milorad Dodik, Prime Minister of Srpska Republic, promised workers' representatives in 2009 that he would help to resolve this problem.

Most of the strikers are already in bad health because of Muscular Dystrophy but now they are experiencing disturbed blood pressure and dizziness.

Institute workers blame management for the economic situation and for putting obstacles in the way of entrepreneurship for persons with disability.

One worker says: "No matter what our education is like, we could not be in a managerial position. The technical director came here eight years ago because the director was his son in law."

According to workers there are three more persons involved in the process of bankruptcy along with the bankruptcy director - the head of law issues, the technical director and the head of commercial issues.