Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 10:41 GMT

2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Romania

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Romania, 11 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52cacd37.html [accessed 19 September 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: 21,400,000
Capital: Bucharest
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The government remained unwilling to grant pay-related bargaining rights in public services. Steps were taken to bring the strike laws into line with the ILO standards. Anti-union practices and enforcement of anti-union discrimination laws remain a problem.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association: 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 officials, public prosecutors and judges, and professional soldiers. High-level civil servants cannot be elected to leadership posts in trade unions.

These exclusions are too broad. The ILO Committee of Experts has requested that the government amend the legislation to ensure that all workers, except for the armed forces, have the right to form and join the organisations of their choice. The Council of Europe has criticised the fact that police officers are obliged to join the National Police Association.

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. Trade unions are trying to change the law to allow workers from different small enterprises to form unions and bargain collectively at the level of the group.

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. A decision to call a strike must be approved by at least 50% plus one of the employees in the particular company.

If a court declares a strike illegal, the trade union has to pay damages and its leaders may be fired. Trade unions are trying to change this rule, at least for cases in which the strike is stopped immediately after the court decision.

Act No 261/9 adopted in July 2007 concerning the settlement of labour disputes still allows for compulsory arbitration in the event that a strike lasts more than 20 days.

In 2007 the government accepted the ILO technical assistance mission to help address the shortcomings of strike legislation. In May, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with the ILO mission to bring the law into compliance with the ILO standards, and specifically to revise a number of confusing or contradictory provisions in the 1999 Labour Disputes Settlement Act.

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.

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. Even though the law on trade unions provides for sanctions for obstructing trade union activities, those sanctions cannot be applied in practice due to the loopholes in the Penal Code.

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 and violations in 2008

Background: After the parliament passed a law providing for a 50% salary increase for teachers, similar wage claims were lodged by other public servants. The government regarded the pay rise as "economically unsustainable" and even tried to contest the teachers' wage increase in the constitutional court, however it rejected the government's position. Some political groups discussed the abolition of the national collective agreement.

Wage bargaining in the public sector: Public employees may bargain on any issues apart from salaries, which are set by the government. In November, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA) reviewed the complaint by the National Education Federation (FEN) and the LEGIS-CCR union pertaining to collective bargaining restrictions in the public sector. The government planned to amend the law by specifically excluding the basic salary, pay increases, compensation, allowances, bonuses and other staff entitlements. The CFA requested that the government take a much more flexible approach, since public employees should still have the right to bargain collectively on those issues.

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.

Workplaces such as the electricity company CEZ-Romania and the Agency for Payments and Interventions in Agriculture (APIA) were reported to have spread anti-union propaganda and intimidated trade union members. CEZ-Romania also used outsourcing and other techniques to destroy trade unions, according to reports from the Blocul National Sindical (BNS).

Anti-union propaganda was also a problem in S.C. Minmetal. These activities are illegal, but difficult to prove. Labour inspectorates do not always respect the confidentiality of complaints on violations of workers' and trade union rights, and some employers prefer facing penalties to complying with the law.

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. External trade union representatives or those who have lost their job but kept their trade union post are hardly, if ever, allowed access to workplaces to meet with trade union members.

Self-employed people risk losing their jobs if they try to form or join a trade union.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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