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2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Romania

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Romania, 9 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c4fec5c28.html [accessed 22 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

Organising can be difficult, and legal protection often has little effect in practice. The right to strike is seriously circumscribed in law, and compulsory arbitration is possible even in non-essential services.

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. While the law provides for sanctions for obstructing union activities, those sanctions cannot be applied in practice due to loopholes in the Penal Code. Collective bargaining is only possible in workplaces where there is at least 21 employees, and collective disputes can be referred to compulsory arbitration by virtue of the Labour Disputes Settlement Act. Moreover, a lawful strike can only be called in defence of workers' economic interests, and is only possible where all means of conciliation have failed. Compulsory arbitration is also available 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 fired. A minimum service of one third of the normal activity must be provided in the event of a strike in a number of sectors.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: The International Monetary Fund and other lenders agreed to provide Romania with a rescue package worth EUR 20bn, but the offer led the government to introduce austerity measures such as a public sector wage freeze and a plan to raise the retirement age. About 800,000 public sector workers went on strike in October, and a 30,000-strong protest in the capital was the largest for a decade. The Social Democrat Party pulled out of the ruling coalition, and the minority government subsequently lost a confidence vote.

Organising obstructed: In recent years some employers have been trying to block the creation of trade unions within companies and have even warned workers against discussing unionisation with outsiders. There have been reports that unscrupulous employers – usually foreign companies – make employment conditional upon the worker agreeing not to create or join a union. If a trade union representative loses his or her job, he or she will hardly ever be allowed back to the company premises to meet with trade union members. Self-employed workers who wish to form or join a union are especially at risk.

Sanctions ineffective: Although anti-union activities are prohibited, the sanctions for restricting trade union activities are rarely, if ever, applied in practice. The procedure for lodging a complaint is too complicated, and the authorities do not prioritise the trade unions' complaints. There are also reports that labour inspectorates do not always respect the confidentiality of the complaints, and that some employers prefer facing penalties to complying with the labour law.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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