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2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Moldova

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2007
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Moldova, 9 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52ca1b2.html [accessed 19 December 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: 4,300,000
Capital: Chisinau
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

National legislation still falls short of ILO standards as regards the right to strike and protection from anti-union discrimination. The government, with the help of management, continues to exert pressure on trade unions to leave the independent trade union confederation CSRM (affiliated to the ITUC).

Trade union rights in law

The right to form or join a trade union is recognised by the Constitution. The Trade Union Law of July 2000 provides for trade union independence. It also provides for basic trade union rights such as collective bargaining, as well as the protection of trade union assets and the guarantee of trade union activities.

Restrictions on the right to strike: Government workers and those in essential services may not strike. The list of workers that do not have the right to strike exceeds the categories defined by the ILO as essential services. Compulsory arbitration may be imposed at the request of only one party to the conflict, which is contrary to ILO standards. Engaging workers to replace those on strike is expressly prohibited by the Labour Code.

The Labour Code prohibits political strikes and does not expressly allow solidarity strikes.

No sanctions for violations of trade union rights: The Penal Code abolished the sanctions for violations of the Trade Union Law. Currently, neither the Penal Code nor the Code of Administrative Offences stipulates any specific sanctions for the violation of trade union rights. This allows the prosecutors to reject trade unions' appeals against any anti-union behaviour of employers and governments, and violations of the Trade Union Act remain unpunished. At the ILO's recommendation, the government drafted an amendment that would sanction public officials obstructing trade union activities by a fine of 75 to 200 basic units (Leu 1,500-4,000 or Euros 88-235 at the time of writing). The draft had not been adopted at the time of writing.

Lack of transparency allows for manipulation: The law does not establish clear rules for appointing trade union representatives to management bodies of the state-owned enterprises or to the tripartite bodies. As a result, the government manipulates the workers' choice of their union, introducing representatives of the compliant, government-supported trade union organisation to these bodies, even if the said organisation initially had no members in the enterprise in question. In 2005, the CSRM representatives were excluded from several boards. They also lost their representation on all ministerial boards (excluding the Board on Education, Youth and Sports) that were reserved for trade union representatives.

Trade union rights in practice

Weak enforcement: Law enforcement remains weak. Neither labour inspectorates nor prosecutor's offices have proved effective in monitoring and enforcing respect for labour standards, especially the right to organise.

Trade unions remain exposed to government pressure: Central and local authorities exert consistent and deliberate pressure on trade unions, their members and leaders. Several cases of government officials intervening in trade union meetings were reported during the year. Company directors, influenced by the government, have ample opportunity to exert pressure on trade unions, since they are members of the same company-level trade unions and have the right to attend trade union meetings. The government's aim is to force trade unions to leave the CSRM and to join the trade union confederation Solidaritatea, which is a much more amenable partner for the government. In June one of the organisations that suffered government interference, the Agroinsind trade union, organised a special strategic planning seminar to combat violations of trade union rights.

At the end of 2005 the President of the republic Mr V.Voronin said that it was "necessary to establish a single trade union".

The government persists in avoiding public debate on interference in trade union activities. Despite the ILO's recommendations and CSRM initiatives, the government does not include the issue of trade union rights violations on the agenda of the tripartite Economic and Social Committee.

Violations in 2006

Background: Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with high unemployment and a large informal economy. As a country heavily dependent on external sources of energy, Moldova was one of the countries most affected by the gas row with Russia at the beginning of the year, and later conceded to higher prices. In September the breakaway Transnistria region, in a referendum not recognised in Moldova or internationally, reasserted their demand for independence and subsequent accession to the Russian Federation.

Campaign against the Sindlukas trade union: Sindlukas, the commerce, HORECA and service trade union, became a target of the government's campaign to force CSRM-affiliated trade unions to switch their affiliation to the Solidaritatea confederation. In May Mr. Vladimir Nirka, the head of the commerce, service and catering department of the Chisinau municipality, instructed the enterprise directors to arrange the transfer of the Sindlukas enterprise-level organisations to a trade union affiliated to Solidaritatea. The heads of the Chisinau enterprises that sold non-food products received similar instructions. In the second half of 2006 the department officials organised a number of meetings with the heads of state, municipal and private enterprises, where private entrepreneurs were warned their licences would be cancelled and their activities obstructed should they fail to influence the unions.

The campaign was successful in a number of workplaces. For example, workers at the school catering company "Adolescencea" voted for transfer of affiliation, under duress. The deputy director of another school catering company, "Liceist", Ms. Lydia Sarandi, collected workers' signatures without clearly explaining what the signatures were for. Trade union leaders were not informed of the campaign. Later it became apparent that the signatures were needed to draft the "minutes" of a trade union meeting that "decided" to withdraw from Sindlukas. The management used these forged minutes to stop transferring union dues to the Sindlukas bank account. Similar tactics were used at the "Bukurina El" school catering company.

Sindlukas lost nine big company-level organisations, totalling more then 1,000 members, as a result of this campaign.

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