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2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Moldova

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 8 June 2011
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Moldova, 8 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ea661f437.html [accessed 23 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 3,600,000
Capital: Chisinau
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Unionists were sanctioned during the year. Law enforcement remains a problem, and the legal framework is not conducive to trade union activities.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN LAW

A number of limitations on trade union rights apply despite initial guarantees. The right to form or join a trade union is recognised by the Constitution, and the Trade Union Law of 2000 provides for trade union independence. However, unions may only acquire legal status if they are members of a national branch organisation or national cross-sectoral trade union organisation, which unduly limits the freedom of the unions. The Labour Code also stipulates that either party to a collective dispute may submit the conflict to judicial tribunals for settlement if negotiations fail or if the party disagrees with the decision of the reconciliation commission. The right to strike is prohibited for government workers and workers in essential services, the list of which exceeds the ILO definition. Furthermore, workers having participated in an unlawful strike may face serious fines and even imprisonment.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN PRACTICE AND VIOLATIONS IN 2010

Background: Moldova is one of poorest countries in Europe: the average salary in 2010 was only around EUR 180. Due to unemployment and low salaries, people leave the country in search of work, and incomes of emigrant workers continue to be significant for Moldavian families. In 2010 they sent over USD 1.1 billion to the country. In September a referendum to change the Constitution to allow for direct presidential elections was held, but it failed due to a low participation rate. On 28 November 2010 early parliamentary elections were held.

Trade union activity difficult: The creation of new unions remains a problem due to the employers' resistance. Collective agreements are mainly signed at enterprises having a long history of collective bargaining and conclusion of collective agreements.

Weak enforcement: Law enforcement remains weak. Neither labour inspectorates nor prosecutors' offices have been effective in monitoring and enforcing labour standards, especially the right to organise.

Activist dismissed after forming union: Konstantin Beliy had been working as a guard for three years in the network of Supermarkets "#1" ("47 Parallel") in the city of Kishinev. Facing numerous violations of workers' rights, he formed a trade union affiliated to the trade union of Commerce, Catering, Restaurant, Hotel, Service and Consumer Cooperatives Workers' Union (SindLUCAS), and was elected its Chair. After appealing to Labour Inspection, unlawful withdrawals from the employees' salaries were stopped. The trade union also tried to negotiate collectively with management on overtime and the employer's refusal to provide vacation to the employees, as provided for by legislation.

At the end of July Mr. Beliy was disciplinarily punished for agitating workers to join the trade union. On 27 September Beliy was dismissed without the approval of a higher-level trade union as required by Moldavian law. Beliy appealed to the courts, and the case is currently under consideration. The Director of the company reportedly said that she was ready to pay any amount of money to prevent the return of Beliy and the union to the supermarkets.

Union leaders arrested for claiming unpaid wages: On 14 December five union leaders from the Glodeni sugar plant workers' union – Chair Vasilii Guleac, Vice-Chair Valentina Semeniuc and activists Anatolie Furtuna, Fiodor Svoevolin and Victor Colibaba – were charged with criminal offences and placed under house arrest for several weeks in a move to prevent them from claiming wages and benefits for the union's members.

The workers at Glodeni had not been paid since June 2009. The arrests followed more than a year of campaigning by the union to defend jobs and get wage arrears paid after the plant owners were declared bankrupt. The workers had set up a round-the-clock vigil in front of the plant's gate to prevent the removal from the plant of sugar that had been impounded by a court.

The bankruptcy administrator tried to load trucks and remove the sugar from the plant, but the workers prevented it. The administrator then filed a lawsuit against the union activists to claim MDL 228,020 (USD 18,500) to cover the costs of the unused trucks. On 17 December the Court of Appeal of Moldova rejected the prosecutor's request to keep the activists in detention and ordered the immediate release of the five union leaders.

Trade union leader dismissed: Since 2007 management of "La casa noua" JSC in the city of Kishinev has impeded the activity of the local union at "La casa noua", affiliated to the trade union of Commerce, Catering, Restaurant, Hotel, Service and Consumer Cooperatives Workers' Union (SindLUCAS). In September 2007 the local union's documents were snatched from its office. In July the union Chair Vasiliy Pozhoga, whose position of lawyer at the company was made redundant, was transferred to a position of seller-consultant with a salary that was three times lower than for those newly recruited into the same position. Mr. Pozhoga also faced numerous acts of discrimination and intimidation. In 2009 transfers of trade union dues were suspended by the company.

On 30 April 2010 Vasiliy Pozhoga was dismissed for absence from the workplace. On 16 December 2010 he was reinstated by the Botanika sector court of the municipality of Kishinev, but the decision was appealed by the employer and was not executed. Another member of the union, Gangan Maria, was dismissed 30 March 2010 without the approval of a higherlevel trade union as required by Moldavian law. In August 2010 she was reinstated, with the decision coming into force in December 2010. However, she had not been reinstated by the end of the year.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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