The Coalition for the Development of Romania is promoting modern slavery in Romania, by lobbying to block the amendment of the Law on Social Dialogue
To: The Romanian Parliament, The Chamber of Deputies
The Committee on Labour and Social Protection
To the attention of: Mr. Adrian Solomon, President
To the attention of: Members of the commission
To the attention of: The Ministry of Labour and Social Justice
To the attention of: Minister Violeta Alexandru
Ref. Draft amendment of the Law no. 62/2011 on social dialogue - Pl-x 715/2018
Dear Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The National Trade Union Confederation "Cartel ALFA" is publicly expressing its concern about the pressures that a lobby structure comprised of embassies and the representatives of the international capital is putting on the Romanian Parliament, in order to not amend the law on social dialogue.
Coaliția pentru Dezvoltarea României [Coalition for the Development of Romania] (CDR), hiding under the guise of a name that falsely implies the idea of "benevolence" for Romania, is nothing but a pressure group advocating its own businesses, in order to preserve and to maximise profits, to the detriment of Romanian workers. We know that among the CDR members are the Council of Foreign Investors, the Romanian-German, the Romanian-British, the French and the American (AmCham) Chambers of Commerce and embassies.
By pressuring the government and the Romanian Parliament, this organisation is promoting its own interest rather than the national one, as it falsely claims to be doing. The CDR has a questionable structure, unique at the international level, in which embassies are associate members along with business representatives and bilateral chambers of commerce. It does not have the status of a social partner in Romania.
Regarding the CDR’s “arguments” (LINK DOCUMENT), we would like to specify the following:
- The draft amendment to the Law 62/2011 “risks bringing an additional disturbance of the labour market” because the Romanian labour market has been deeply unbalanced in the recent years and “the relations between workers and employers in Romania are in a major imbalance, precisely as a result of the legislative act adopted in 2011”. Although in the recent years Romania has had a spectacular economic growth, workers have benefited the least: the share of labour in the GDP is only 36%, whereas the part of the capital is 51%, a ration that is reversed compared to the distribution in Europe. 40% of Romanians are considered to be poor, and about half of the employees in the economic sector receive the minimum wage, which does not provide for even half of the necessary costs for a minimum decent living. The precarious level of wages and working conditions affects most of the workers in Romania and the situation is getting worse by the year. In addition, Romania has the highest number of work accidents. Consequently, the poor wages lead to the perpetual underfunding of the public budgets, which creates a vicious circle that keeps Romania underdeveloped. This imbalance is created by the lack of functional mechanisms for workers' representation, by limiting the right to association and to collective action and, finally, by the blockage of collective bargaining.
- "The priority must be to find solutions for ensuring stability and to maintain jobs." If stability and predictability are desired, then, it is notable to see how countries where the industrial relations system is solid, with robust collective bargaining and collective agreements with wide coverage (eg. Germany, Denmark), have coped much better with the economic crises, including the one caused by the new coronavirus, without placing the costs of the crisis entirely on their workers.
- "Past discussions on this draft law have led to the clear conclusion that time is needed." However, it is ten years since the abusive amendment of the labour legislation in 2011, without any kind of social dialogue or debate and without following the parliamentary procedure, as the legislation was adopted by the procedure of assuming responsibility of the government. Meanwhile, numerous studies have shown the negative consequences of this legislation, as it violates the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions on the right to association and collective bargaining, while ignoring the European Commission's Country Recommendations to amend the social dialogue law in order to remedy imbalances and to unblock collective bargaining. What is more, on the subject of this current draft law alone, more than 30 meetings took place in Parliament. Consequently, it is not time that is needed, but political will!
- “No consensus reached between the social partners.” The pretext of the lack of consensus has been used to block any proposal to change the legislative framework from 2011 on to the present. The principle of non-consensus cannot be used when one of the parties involved systematically refuses to reach one.
- “The law on social dialogue should take place after the correction of the defective way in which the sectors of activity are currently defined”. These are two distinctive things. Even if the sectors need to be redefined, this process can take place in parallel or after the amendment of the law on social dialogue. "Practice shows that where the sectors are correctly defined, there is also an effective social dialogue", the CDR document states. We wonder what this sector is, because, since the amendment of the 2011 legislation, no collective agreement has been concluded at the level of any sector of activity, except for a few budgetary areas. How is the effectiveness of social dialogue measured, if not by the resulting agreements and by their impact? After all, the collective agreements signed are extremely few, most at company level, 85% of which are not actually the result of a real negotiation with a trade union organisation. As a result, most collective agreements are content-free documents that offer no benefit to workers, instead they are preventing them from taking collective action. These documents only serve as an example of “good labour practices” in front of financiers or parent companies.
- "The Coalition for the Development of Romania considers that one of the basic pillars of the competitiveness of the Romanian economy is the labour market". It is a correct statement, and in its complete form it would sound like this: "the competitiveness of the Romanian economy is the cheap labour market, easily exploitable, with workers lacking rights and protection."
The question we ask you, as a legislator, is the following: do we want Romania to remain, on the long run, the same source of cheap labour without workers’ rights and representation; a workforce that is easily exploited by “investors”, who, only hypocritically, claim Romania's interest, being only interested in maximising their own profits and benefits? Do we still want Romania to remain the source of cheap labour for the whole of Europe, to have children who grow up alone, in conditions of serious emotional deprivation, to have workers who cannot afford to support themselves and who become ill prematurely?
We believe that giving in to these pressures from lobbying organisations and accepting their blackmail on “job retention” - which has nothing to do with this bill – means that you are officially entrapping Romania in the status of “colony” and that we are, once again, missing the opportunity to build, step by step, the way out of this model of underdevelopment, through the “advantage” of cheap and easily exploitable labour.
Bogdan Iuliu HOSSU
President of CNS „Cartel ALFA”