Last Updated: Thursday, 21 August 2014, 09:01 GMT

2007 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Romania

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 - Romania, 9 June 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52ca122.html [accessed 21 August 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: 22,200,000
Capital: Bucharest
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The law still contains some restrictions on the right to strike, and organising a legal strike is difficult. Enforcement of anti-union discrimination laws remains a problem. At least one worker has been dismissed due to his trade union activities.

Trade union rights in law

The 2003 Trade Union Law recognises the right of workers to establish and join the trade union of their choice. This right applies to all workers except high-level government and civil service staff, public prosecutors and judges, as well as military, intelligence and police personnel. No worker may be forced to withdraw from, or join a union.

The law requires a minimum of 15 members to form a union. They have to belong to the same branch of activity, but not the same enterprise.

The Foreign Investors' Council has been pushing for labour law reform that would facilitate dismissals and weaken trade unions' collective bargaining rights.

Strike limitations: The right to strike is recognised. Employees in sanitary services, pharmacies, schools, communications, radio and television, transport and the supply of essential services (gas, electricity and so on) must provide a minimum service of one third of normal activity in the event of a strike.

Strikes may be held only if all means of possible conciliation have failed. The employer must be given 48 hours' warning. Strikes can only be held to defend the economic interests of the workers and must not be used for political reasons. The same people who are prohibited from joining and forming trade unions may not strike.

Strikes are illegal if a collective agreement is in force, even if the dispute concerns an emerging problem not covered by the existing agreement and the employer refuses to negotiate the new problem with the union. A proposal has been submitted to parliament to change the law, allowing some strikes during the validity of the collective agreement. Strikes can also be declared illegal on the grounds of procedural irregularities. If a strike is declared illegal, the trade union leader can legally be fired, even if the strike is ended immediately after being declared illegal. If a court declares a strike illegal, the union has to pay damages.

Collective bargaining: Collective bargaining is a recognised right under a 1996 law that stipulates that collective agreements are to be renewed every year. The state may not interfere in the collective bargaining process. No sector is excluded by law from collective bargaining. However, collective agreements can only be negotiated in workplaces where there is a minimum of 21 employees.

Public employees may bargain for everything except salaries, which are set by the government.

Protection against discrimination: Anti-union discrimination is prohibited by law. The protection of trade union leaders is strengthened by the new trade union law. Throughout the mandate and two years after its completion, the employment contract of the trade union leader cannot be terminated for unjustified reasons, unless the elected leadership of the trade union agrees. Penal sanctions may be imposed for obstructing trade union activities, although it has not yet happened in practice.

No labour courts: In response to a request from the trade unions to establish specialised bodies to deal with labour disputes, the government drafted a bill to this effect, and promised that the new labour courts would be established by the end of 2004. However, labour courts have not been created. Labour disputes continued to be dealt with by specialised panels, in the normal court system. The labour law specialists representing employers and trade union organisations on these panels can only give an opinion, their view is not binding on the court.

Trade union rights in practice

Organising obstructed: The right to form trade unions is not always respected in practice. Some employers try to block the creation of trade unions within companies and even warn workers against discussing unionisation with outsiders. Many employers have reportedly created enterprise-friendly unions. In some cases, employers seek to destroy independent trade unions, which is punishable by law, but difficult to prove.

It is reported that the most anti-union employers – usually foreign companies – make employment conditional upon the worker agreeing not to create or join a union. Some employers also do not provide their unions with offices, fax machines or telephones and deny unions access to economic and social information. If a trade union leader loses his or her job but keeps the trade union post, the employers often ignore the law and deny him or her access to the workplace to see their members.

Freelancers may lose their job if they try to form a join a trade union.

Collective bargaining problematic: Many employers do not respect the right to collective bargaining and do not agree collective agreements with the trade unions. In the meantime, many collective agreements are not enforced. In 2006 a number of employers refused to begin annual negotiations on salaries, working time and conditions of work. The territorial Labour Boards then refused to register the conciliation applications filed by trade unions in these companies. In the absence of conciliation, trade unions cannot launch a legal strike.

Insufficient enforcement of labour legislation: The limited number of judicial panels dealing, at district level, with industrial disputes, and the fact that the labour law specialists can only issue opinions, not binding decisions, has impaired the resolution of labour disputes and the enforcement of trade union rights. Employers have rarely been punished by the courts for their anti-union behaviour. The promised increase in the number of specialist panels did not materialise, but it was reported that the quality and speed of trials dealing with labour disputes had improved in 2004.

Violations in 2006

Background: Romania was due to become a member of the European Union on January 1, 2007.

Intimidation and dismissal: Immediately after the Free Independent Trade Union 1 Mai was established at the S.C. Lisadraxlmaier Autopart Romania S.R.L at the end of 2005 the union's leaders were subject to pressure and intimidation, which continued throughout 2006. The employer started disciplinary procedures against the union president and two vice-presidents. The president was dismissed (the case was in court at the time of writing), one of the vice-presidents resigned due to pressure and another remained in his job, but had 10 per cent of his salary deducted for two months as a disciplinary measure. The employer also tried to challenge the trade union's registration in court.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

Search Refworld

Countries