Moldova - Union leaders arrested for claiming unpaid wages (2011)

On 14 December five union leaders from the Glodeni sugar plant workers’ union - Chair Vasilii Guleac, Vice-Chair Valentina Semeniuc and activists Anatolie Furtuna, Fiodor Svoevolin and Victor Colibaba - were charged with criminal offences and placed under house arrest for several weeks in a move to prevent them from claiming wages and benefits for the union’s members.

The workers at Glodeni had not been paid since June 2009. The arrests followed more than a year of campaigning by the union to defend jobs and get wage arrears paid after the plant owners were declared bankrupt. The workers had set up a round-the-clock vigil in front of the plant’s gate to prevent the removal from the plant of sugar that had been impounded by a court.

The bankruptcy administrator tried to load trucks and remove the sugar from the plant, but the workers prevented it. The administrator then filed a lawsuit against the union activists to claim MDL 228,020 (USD 18,500) to cover the costs of the unused trucks. On 17 December the Court of Appeal of Moldova rejected the prosecutor’s request to keep the activists in detention and ordered the immediate release of the five union leaders.

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