Collective bargaining has been under pressure for years in Romania. Sectoral bargaining has been made very difficult. More recently the government undermined the social dialogue by transforming in a mere information process.
The European federations representing transport and public service (ETF and EPSU) condemn the actions of the Romanian government in what appears to be an orchestrated attempt to intimidate ETF and EPSU affiliate USLM with union busting tactics, in response to the union working to protect workers in the Bucharest metro.
On 5 July a group of 13 Romanian trade unionists arrived in Brussels after a four-day rolling protest from Bucharest over the low wages that force many of their fellow citizens to make similar journeys to find decent work. The “Caravan of Social Rights” stopped in Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Luxembourg along the way to stage protests outside Romanian embassies with the support of local trade unions. GDP per capita in Romania is now 72% of the EU average, but Romanian workers’ pay is just 28% of the EU average and the minimum wage is just €281 a month when the cost of living is €572 a month
The Sanitas health union is calling on the government to offer permanent employment to the many medical and auxiliary workers who were taken on to help cope with the pandemic. These workers will see their contracts terminated once the end of the emergency is declared. The union argues that these workers have clearly demonstrated their skills and competences in helping to deal with the crisis with many facing high risks of infection and some even losing their lives to COVID. Sanitas also sees continuing staff shortages as another argument for offering these workers permanent employment.
The European and global trade union confederations (ETUC and ITUC) have written to the Romanian government to protest against the decision not to implement a pay increase for public sector workers. The letter also challenges the government on anti-union statements and threats to remove the right of trade unions to collect membership fees through check-off. EPSU also wrote to the government along similar lines in January and followed up this letter in March – with no reply received so far to either letter.
Public sector unions remain angry that the government has not only failed to implement a pay rise that was set in legislation last year but also refused to engage in social dialogue. This anger has been further fed by anti-union comments from the prime minister who has challenged the independence of public sector unions, their right to collect dues by check-off and their right to protest. Unions are considering further protests. EPSU has sent letters of protest to the prime minister and raised the issue with the European Commission as the behaviour of the Romanian government clearly flies in
EPSU Standing Committee on Health and Social Services discussed how to better support health workers during the pandemic and making the COVID- 19 vaccine a public good
On the 11 March 2021 members of the EPSU Standing Committee on Health and Social Services met for the first time this year to discuss the situation in the sector at the national and the EU level.
Public sector unions have been active in protests against the government’s refusal to abide by legislation and implement a pay increase for public sector workers. They are also challenging the government for its failure to agree to any social dialogue with the unions and are concerned about possible cuts to bonuses and holiday allowances. Health workers took action in January and other public service workers continued the protests through February and are now considering what further action to take. The Publisind federation that includes the SNPP police and prison officers’ union have also
Public sector unions are angry that the government has issued an emergency ordinance to block a pay increase and bonus payments that are due for implementation this year. The pay rise was part of a four-stage increase that was set out in legislation passed in 2017. Unions are particularly concerned about the impact on lower paid workers as some higher paid staff are already benefiting from pay rises. Protests have been organised across the country, including pickets of key ministries. EPSU sent a letter of protest to the president and prime minister and other key people.