4 – Systematic violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Romania

The ITUC affiliates in Romania are the Blocul National Sindical (BNS), the Confederatia Nationala Sindicala Cartel Alfa (Cartel ALFA), the Confederatia Sindicatelor Democratice din Romania (CSDR) and the Confederatiei Nationale a Sindicatelor Libere din România - CNSLR-FRATIA (CNSLR-FRATIA).

Prime Minister Emil Boc and his cabinet had to resign in February 2012 because of public protests against austerity measures which included amendments of the Social Dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. Act without consulting the social partners social partners Unions and employers or their representative organisations. . When the new government expressed the need to amend the Social Dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. Act in order to strengthen social dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. , the IMF and the European Commission intervened in November 2012. Their demands include the limitation of the number of persons who are to be protected from anti-union discrimination anti-union discrimination Any practice that disadvantages a worker or a group of workers on grounds of their past, current or prospective trade union membership, their legitimate trade union activities, or their use of trade union services. Can constitute dismissal, transfer, demotion, harassment and the like.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework

or retaliatory firing “to an appropriate number and timeframe”, and a more restrictive regulation of the right to strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
.

In practice

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Turkish employer refuses to sign labour agreement in alleged application of “orders from Turkey”01-02-2017

The company Kablutronik successfully produced cables for fridges and washing machines over the years registering a 20 per cent rise in productivity. Industrial relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
also tended to be constructing at the company resulting in a collective agreement stipulating a salary raise of 12 per cent for the workers as well as other benefits such as meal and holiday vouchers. However, at the end of the bargaining process the manager refused to finalise the conclusion of the agreement and instead signed additional addendums to each individual employment contract. Although the employer explained this refusal by citing “orders from Turkey”, the real reason seems to be the company’s plan to hire more workers. The individual negotiation of work contracts would make this a much less costly investment. The company therefore seems to have resorted to weakening collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
. The trade union has brought the case to court, requesting the formal recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. of the result of the bargaining process and in the meantime has called for a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
to exercise pressure on the management.

Collective bargaining at a standstill because of labour law reform 01-12-2016

Changes to the labour law have been implemented throughout 2016 in Romania. The new regulation stipulates that trade unions must represent at least 50+1 per cent of workers in the sector in order to be entitled to negotiate collective agreements. This high threshold makes the possibility to conclude a collective agreement practically impossible.

The prohibitive nature of the prerequisites enshrined in the new legislation becomes even more evident when it is taken into consideration that 42 per cent of employees in Romania work in small and medium sized companies that in 32 per cent of cases are so small (less than 21 employees and less than 15 workers per unit) that they do not even have the right to create a union that can engage in collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
.

With the elimination of the collective agreement at national level and the new reform requiring such strict prerequisites for collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
at sectoral level, it is clear that industrial relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.

See social dialogue
will shift towards plant-level bargaining. However, from a total of 530,000 enterprises, only about 14,000 have a valid collective agreement signed. It needs to be noted, also, that of these 14,000 only a minor percentage have been signed by representative trade unions, while the vast majority of agreements have been signed by so-called “new representatives of employees” stipulated in the newly reformed Romanian labour law. The representatives of employees who do not enjoy the resources and the “power” of trade unions are in a much weaker position to negotiate, thus the quality of the collective agreements is lower, failing to ensure adequate working conditions and fair wages.

The National Trade Union Confederation (NTUC) “Cartel ALFA”, together with the other confederations, has been trying for the past five years to amend the laws in order to restore collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
, but all the efforts are being blocked mainly by the Council of Foreign Investors and the American Chamber of Commerce.

Romanian unions demand restoration of labour rights01-12-2015

In November 2015 various trade unions (among them the National Trade Union Petrom-Energy FNS Solidaritatea Metal – SMETAL; Federatia Sindicatelor Libere din Chimie Si Petrochimie FSLCP and Federatia Sindicala CRAIMODEX CRAIOVA - Secteur Textile) picketed in front of the Ministry of Labour in Bucharest to denounce the erosion of collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
rights in the Romania. It was, in fact, under the pressing impulse of the international Monetary Fund that the Romanian government approved in 2011 the Law 62 on Social Dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. . Such reform, approved without being discussed in Parliament as a sort of “emergency measure” in response to the crisis, completely abolished the right to strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
at national level and made sector level bargaining virtually impossible. Following this anti-democratic reform, the situation worsened significantly for Romanian workers: many local unions have lost representative status, and therefore there has been a massive decline in the number of collective agreements signed by trade unions. Furthermore, in line with the reforms imposed by the Troika in the vast majority of southern European States, the legislation has also made it easier for employers to use non-standard employment contracts extending the maximum period for fixed-term employment from 24 to 36 months. The vast majority of the new jobs created happen to be precarious and employers have taken advantage of tax legislation to reduce the number of workers on open-ended contracts and replace them with the more flexible fixed-term contracts.

Company modifies definition of “representative union” discriminating against one industry-level union01-10-2015

The Company SC OMV Petrom SA signed a collective agreement with National Union Petrom-Energie Federation excluding arbitrarily the other industry-level union, namely Federatia Sindicatelor Libere si Independente ENERGETICA. Such an agreement changed the definition of “representative trade union” designing it in order to discriminate against both the members of the non-signatory union and the union itself. In fact, the new collective agreement provided exclusive wage increases, financial incentives and preferential shift systems reserved to workers affiliated with the signatory union and other provisions discriminating against the non-signatory union, denying its access to relevant documents and participation in various committees at the enterprise level.

Court orders Wizz Air to reinstate dismissed union leader25-03-2015

On 19 March, Romania’s Ilfov court ordered the reinstatement of a trade union leader unfairly dismissed by Wizz Air. Mr Mircea Constantin, president of Sindicatul Aerolimit (the cabin crew union at Wizz Air’s base in Bucharest), was, in fact, illegally dismissed because of his decision to create a trade union in the company. Despite campaigning by the ETF and ITF together with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), which included a LabourStart campaign that gathered nearly 10,000 signatures worldwide, Wizz Air refused to reinstate the dismissed workers. Nevertheless, Wizz Air now has no choice but to comply with the Court decision reinstating the trade unionist and paying compensation equal to his salary.

Wizz Air dismisses union members09-02-2015

Wizz Air is a low-cost airline based in Central and Eastern Europe. On their website, the company proudly says: “we believe that people make all the difference” and that they “believe in high ethical standards driven by an excellent team-player approach”. However, that “ethical” approach does not seem to include the acceptance of trade unions defending workers’ rights.

Earlier this year, a couple of courageous cabin crew members decided to set up a trade union at Wizz Air. One month after they formally announced the foundation of a trade union, its President, Mircea Constantin, was dismissed on false disciplinary grounds. The Vice-President and Secretary of the trade union, Claudiu Bita and Denisa Chelu, were suspended for two weeks on the ground that “their involvement in the trade union makes them a safety hazard during the flights”.

The management of Wizz Air visited the company’s hub in Bucharest and verbally confirmed that they will not accept any unions inside the company. The union was given one week to dissolve itself; otherwise, actions would be taken, namely the removal of one aircraft from Bucharest and consequently further lay-offs despite earlier growth announcements. After the deadline, the management sent a letter explaining that, given the situation, the company had decided to establish a new cabin crew employment company. That company would provide non-unionised workers for Wizz Air in Bucharest.

The pressure put forth by the company increased and many workers were afraid of losing their jobs. The management even contacted people during their days off to inquire about their position vis-à-vis the union. The situation reached a head on 4 November 2014 with the termination of 19 union members’ contracts, mostly founding members, due to the “reorganisation and lower demand during the winter schedule”.

Unpaid union dues19-05-2014

SC Erdemir Romania dismissed 10 workers who took part in the protest organized to ask for better working conditions within the framework of collective negotiation between 5 and 7 February 2013. The court ruled in favour of the employees and ordered the reinstatement of the workers which has been appealed by the employer. SC Energy Complex Oltenia decided to stop collecting and remitting union dues to the National Federation of Mine and Energy despite an existing collective agreement on 5 July 2013. The Trial Court of Gorj ruled that this illegal and ordered the remittance of union dues. However, the company has refused to implement this ruling. The SC Nitroporos SRL (Fagaras) has not paid union dues to the Free Union “Nitramonia - Rompiro” for the period April 2011 to March 2013. The Brasov Court ruled in favour of the union on 14 February and ordered the company to pay RON205.091.

Moreover, Cartel ALFA reports the refusal of SC CARREFOUR ROMANIA SA to disclose the relevant and necessary information to the Unions in the framework of the collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
during the period May 2013 to July 2013.

Metrotex refuses to bargain05-04-2013

Metrotex management refused to negotiate a new collective agreement with the Free Trade Union of Metro and Aviation Workers (USLMA). The existing collective agreement expired in March 2013.

Priests do not have the right to freedom of association31-07-2013

In Sindacutul ‘Pastorul Cel Bun’ v. Romania [2013] ECHR 646 the European Court of Human Rights overruled an earlier decision of the Third Section in favour of the Romanian government with respect to the refusal to register a trade union established by priests. The Archdiocese is opposed to registration arguing the union’s constitution was incompatible with the duties accepted by priests. The Grand Chamber recognised there was interference in the right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
but considered this interference necessary and proportionate with respect to the protection of Article 9. It was held that in refusing to register the union, “the State was simply declining to become involved in the organisation and operation of the Romanian Orthodox Church, thereby observing its duty of neutrality under Article 9 of the Convention”.

Lack of clarity in new law fuels airline dispute05-09-2011

The Tarom National Technical Trade Union has reported that the management of the national airline, CN Tarom SA, has been refusing to negotiate with the union over a new contract despite the fact that it continues to represent workers. It is understood that the company may be using a gap created as a result of a new law, the Social Dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. Act, to justify the action. New criteria have been introduced in how social partners social partners Unions and employers or their representative organisations. represent workers and also to collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
, but the government had not defined the sectors in which agreements can be signed.

Concerns over law on retrocession of trade union assets15-01-2010

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.

Organising obstructed30-11-2009

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.

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