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2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Romania

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 - Romania, 8 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ea661e82b.html [accessed 20 October 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: 21,300,000
Capital: Bucharest
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

The country's legal framework remains inadequate in its guarantee of trade union rights, particularly of unions' internal administration, collective bargaining and the right to strike. Protests at the government's austerity measures have been frequent, and there are fears about further reforms of the labour code.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN LAW

Trade union rights remain inadequate, although revisions of relevant labour laws have been initiated with ILO assistance. The 2003 Trade Union Law recognises the right of workers to establish and join a trade union, but the procedure for registering a union is long and cumbersome. Unions' internal freedom is limited, as the law requires prior approval of amendments to unions' internal rules, and state administrative bodies have wide powers to control unions' economic and financial activities.

Trade union officials have by law a right to a shorter work schedule for trade union activities without loss of pay, but in a recent ruling, No. 1276/2010, the Constitutional Court declared this provision unconstitutional. The law also provides for sanctions for obstructing union activities; however, those sanctions cannot be applied in practice due to loopholes in the Penal Code. The right to collective bargaining is only secured in workplaces where there are at least 21 employees, and the scope of bargaining in the public sector is limited. Furthermore, collective disputes can be referred to compulsory arbitration by virtue of the Labour Disputes Settlement Act.

A lawful strike can only be called in defence of workers' economic interests, and the law provides for compulsory arbitration where a strike lasts more than 20 days. Should a court declare a strike illegal, the trade union has to pay damages and its leaders may be dismissed. A minimum service of one third of the normal activity must be provided in the event of a strike in a number of sectors, including public transportation.

TRADE UNION RIGHTS IN PRACTICE AND VIOLATIONS IN 2010

Background: The country's continuing economic problems remained the key issue in Romanian politics in 2010. Financial cuts, agreed by the Romanian government and the International Monetary Fund, took effect from 1 June 2010. These measures cut public sector wages by 25%, unemployment benefits and subsistence allowances by 15%, and included widespread job losses. The trade unions set up a crisis committee, and numerous protests took place.

Concerns over law on retrocession of trade union assets: At the beginning of the year, Romania remained the last new EU member state from Central and Eastern Europe not to have settled the issue of trade union assets. In December 2009 the Romanian senate had rejected a bill on trade union assets proposed by a commission composed of members of the government and representatives of trade union confederations. In January 2010 the international trade union movement called on the Romanian government and President to promulgate the law on retrocession as adopted by the commission in order to solve the issue of distribution of trade union assets, and thereby enabling trade unions in Romania to pursue their activities freely and securely.

Concerns over functioning of National Agency of Integrity: The Romanian trade union confederations, including CNSLR FRATIA and Cartel-ALFA, have protested against the provisions in the Law 144/2007 on the creation, organisation and functioning of the National Agency of Integrity. These provisions require senior officials of trade union federations and confederations to publicly disclose their personal assets. There are concerns that this law would enable the Agency to be used as an instrument to put political pressure on trade unions, and the confederations urged that the provisions be withdrawn.

Reform of the country's labour code continues to be discussed with the IMF: Measures to reduce workers' protections are being implemented on top of the massive cuts to wages, pensions and public services that form part of the current adjustment programme implemented by the Romanian government to comply with public spending limits specified in the loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Concerns have been voiced that efforts under way with IMF backing to achieve legislative changes would bring about increased precariousness in the labour market. These reforms have not been discussed or agreed nationally on a tripartite basis.

Media company in breach of legal obligations: A dispute in the media industry arose when the Romanian Journalists Federation (FRJ) MediaSind asked the Adevarul Press Trust management to observe national and international labour legislation in force in the country as well as the existing collective labour agreement. After MediaSind complained to the country's Labour Inspection Authority, the Authority discovered that the company ignored provisions of the collective labour agreement. At the same time the Parity Commission in the News Media (composed of MediaSind, the Romanian Press Employers' Association ROMEDIA and the National Union of Romanian Employers) revealed that Adevarul was in breach of the country's labour laws. The Commission called on the company to abide by the law. In response, Adevarul unilaterally terminated copyright agreements covering six journalists who were members of the union and then fired them.

Refusal to enter into collective bargaining: The Agency for Social Benefits of Bucharest refused to enforce the law in relation to collective bargaining. On 17 February the trade union "Postman" had registered a demand with the Agency to the effect that the National Romanian Post Company S.A. should invite them to the mandatory annual round of collective bargaining, but the Agency refused to agree to their demand.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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