In the last decade, Romania has experienced a sustained economic growth, reaching in 2020 a GDP per capita of 72% of the EU average. However, economic growth has not been transferred to improving the quality of life, as the main redistribution mechanisms are blocked:
1. The minimum wage is maintained at a very low level, its net value (EUR 281) covering only half of the living costs of people, based on the minimum consumption basket (EUR 572). Increases in the minimum wage in recent years have lagged behind general increases in the minimum wage in the EU, leading to a loss of convergence and an additional incentive for migration.
2. Collective bargaining. The legislation adopted during the financial crisis, in 2011, in the presence of the Troika (IMF-World Bank-EC), created hostile conditions for Romanian workers. Deregulation and "flexibility" of the labor market weakened social dialogue and collective bargaining systems, making it more difficult for workers to join trade unions and defend their rights collectively.
Given the discrepancies between economic growth and the improvement of the quality of life, as well as the current governmental hostilities towards workers, we started protesting in Europe! The caravan indicated an international protest movement, starting from Romania with the final destination Brussels, against the measures of the current Government that hit workers hard and undermined democracy. The caravan met on July 1, 2021 in Arad, from where it left for European institutions - the European Commission and the European Parliament - where meetings took place with European officials and representatives of Romania at the union level. Along the way, the Caravan made stops at the Romanian Embassies in Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Luxembourg, where demonstrations took place.
The renewed austerity measures adopted by the Romanian Government, the blocking of social dialogue, the unbalanced fiscal policy between capital and workers and the low wage policy place the full cost of the health and economic crisis on workers and the most vulnerable sections of the population.
A group of 13 Romanian workers ended on Monday a four-day continuous protest between Bucharest and Brussels militating against low wages and working conditions that force fellow citizens to emigrate for a better life.
The "Caravan of Social Rights" initiated by the Cartel Alfa union started on Friday, stopping in Budapest, Vienna, Munich and Luxembourg to organize protests in front of Romanian embassies and consulates with the support of local unions.
The group also met with the European Commission to express concern about how Romania's economic growth over the past ten years has not translated into a better quality of life for workers.
ITUH - Together with our colleagues from the European trade unions, ETUC ,ITUC, IndustriAll Europe, CSC European Transport Workers' Federation. Together for social justice, decent wages and workers' rights!
And if it's Sunday, it's Luxembourg, where the minimum wage has an extra zero at its back. The minimum wage is 2,200 euros and it's not taxed at 40%, but at 14% for workers. And by the way ... Prime Minister Florin Cîţu should also hear this: this year's increase of the minimum wage in Luxembourg was 60 euros gross / 52 euros net, not 14 euros gross / 8 euros net, as in Romania!
Together with colleagues from the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions - OGB, for Social Justice and Worker Rights
ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini, who joined the delegation at the meeting with the European Commission, said:
“More than 14 years after joining, the benefits of Romania’s EU membership are still being enjoyed by a tiny elite while millions of working people are forced to leave their country to find a decent job. Romanian workers have come to Brussels to say enough is enough and their situation shows the urgent need for a strong EU directive on adequate minimum wages and more collective bargaining."
“The Commission has rightly stood up to member states who misuse EU funds in the past and it must ensure now that the €14 billion given to Romanian through the recovery fund is genuinely used to create decent jobs and raise social rights. Otherwise the 2,000 kilometer journey made by Romanian trade unionists this week will be repeated by millions more workers over the coming years.”
The Confederal Committee of the NTUC Cartel ALFA, meeting on Monday, January 11, 2021, following the analysis of the current situation, the governing program, the measures taken or announced by the current government, which profoundly and predominantly disadvantages the categories of workers represented by the confederation and the poorest categories of citizens, decided to launch a program of protest actions.
In order to comply with the health security measures of this period, the actions were carried out in stages and in cascade, during January and February and include street actions, demonstrations in front of public institutions, prefectures, Presidential Administration, Ministries, headquarters of government parties, memoirs, letters, petitions, discussions with parliamentarians from all parliamentary parties.