Population: 3,800,000
Capital: Chisinau
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

National legislation continues to fall short of ILO standards. The Government has been avoiding collective bargaining with the teachers' trade union ESTU. The registration of the Trade Union Association of Public Administration and Civil Service (USASP) was denied by the Supreme Court.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association: 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 forming trade unions: Section 10 (1) and (5) of the Trade Union Law stipulates that trade unions acting nationwide on national, sectoral and inter-sectoral levels acquire legal personality after being registered, while primary (company-level) unions and unions that do not operate nationwide (territorial sectoral and cross-sectoral levels) acquire legal personality in accordance with charters of the national, sectoral and inter-sectoral trade unions to which these lower-level trade unions are affiliated. While a number of non-affiliated company-level trade unions have managed to register, the Government has still failed to reply to repeated ILO inquiries as to whether primary or territorial-level trade unions could function autonomously.

In the meantime, the interchangeable use of the terms "trade union" and "trade union centre (federation or confederation)" in the laws has created a confusing situation for workers deciding to set up new sectoral-level trade unions.

No sanctions for violations of trade union rights: The Penal Code does not provide any sanctions for violations of the freedom of association. Article 41 of the Code of Administrative Contraventions (minor offences) provides sanctions for violations of labour laws. However, this provision does not specifically mention trade union rights, which led to the practice of prosecutors rejecting trade unions' appeals against anti-union behaviour of employers and government. In 2006, at the ILO's recommendation, the government drafted an amendment that would sanction obstructing trade union activities by a (low) fine. Later the government reported to the ILO that it had decided to abandon this amendment and that the solution would be sought in the framework of a completely new Code on Contraventions.

Restrictions on the right to strike: Government workers and those in essential services are not allowed to 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.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Background: Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, with a population rate declining over time due to increased mortality, falling birth rates and significant emigration. Democracy is extremely fragile, with most human rights lacking institutional protection. In 2007, two trade union centres merged to establish the National Trade Union Confederation of Moldova (Confederatiei Nationale a Sindicatelor din Moldova, CNSM). Given the government's long-standing interference in trade union affairs, the merger was seen as a controversial process by the international trade union movement. The CNSM did, however, reiterate its commitment to trade union freedoms, participated in the World Day for Decent Work and International Human Rights Day. A number of sectoral-level trade union organisations supported the teachers' protest action for better wages.

Issues in the ILO complaint unresolved: In 2004, repeated and systematic interference by the public authorities led a number of Moldovan trade unions, supported by the ICFTU (predecessor of ITUC), the IUF and PSI to lodge a formal complaint to the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA). In June, after having examined the case a number of times, the CFA noted with regret that the government had still failed to address the issues mentioned in the complaint. The alleged acts of interference by the government and employers in the trade unions' internal affairs had not been investigated, the legislation had not been amended, and the government refused to provide information on the outstanding issues. The CNSM reiterated its support for the complaint and its commitment to keeping the relevant issues on the agenda.

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

Supreme Court denies registration: Last year's Survey described the registration battle of the Trade Union of Public Administration and Civil Service staff (Uniunea Sindicatelor din Autoritatile si Serviciile Publice din Republica Moldova, USASP). The Ministry of Justice exploited legal uncertainties to refuse the registration, regardless of two appeal rulings in favour of USASP. On 12 November, the Supreme Court finally decided that the Ministry's decision was lawful, rejected USASP's request for registration and closed the case.

Collective bargaining: In September, Education International (EI) wrote to the Moldovan authorities in support of the requests of the teachers' union ESTU to start negotiating a salary increase. The government had been ignoring ESTU since March. Earlier editions of this Survey reported the government's avoidance of collective bargaining as a means of retaining its influence over trade unions.

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