Protest actions against the government’s austerity measures
The new right-leaning coalition forming the government after the 6th December elections has swiftly announced and imposed austerity measures, in stark contrast to the promises of the electoral campaign, when every party made assurances that social rights will be respected and the legislation (providing scheduled increases for pensions and for wages of some categories of public personnel) would be enforced. The measures taken by the government disadvantage the workers and the more vulnerable categories of the population, while no plan to distribute equally and fairly the burden of the crisis is made.
NTUC Cartel ALFA has lauched a series of protest actions. In order to comply with the health security measures of this period, the actions will take place in stages and in cascade, during January and February and include street actions, demonstrations in front of public institutions, presidency, ministries, headquarters of government parties, memoirs, letters, petitions.
More specifically, the reasons behind this decision are:
Wage austerity policy:
- the statutory national minimum wage increased by only 41 lei net (8 euro). In establishing this arbitrary increase of 3,1%, the government denied its own calculation formula established last year (which would have resulted in a 8% increase), also ignoring the legislation in force – the law which instates the obligation to take into account the minimum consumption basket in establishing the minimum wage; The value of the consumption basket for one person is 575 euro (calculated based on the law) whereas the “increased” minimum net wage is the equivalent of half this sum, 284 euro.
- Freezing of certain scheduled wage increases provided by Law 153/2017 for the remuneration of public employees. Law 153/2017 was applied in stages. Some categories of staff received in advance the full increase (such as doctors, nurses and public administration) while other categories were scheduled to receive the increases in stages, in the period 2018-2022, with a 1/4th yearly increase. Thus, for the public employees in education, police and other categories of health personnel except doctors and nurses, now the government has freezed the wages, not granting the expected increases.
- Freezing of wage rights is not justified as the labour market in Romania is at 66% of the average EU hourly productivity , and in terms of the cost of labour it is at 35% of the EU average ;
Freezing of pensions and lack of social justice in the pension system;
- The need to recalculate pensions. By introducing a correction coefficient, the current system creates distortions i.e. two persons with the same score (retirement conditions) receive different payments. Increasing the pension point to reach 45% of the medium wage (as established by the Pension Law). Today it is around 30%.
Blocking collective bargaining by not amending Social dialogue law, L62/2011;
- Although the draft amendment to Law 62/2011, developed in consultation with the social partners during the last five years, is in the final reporting phase, its adoption is dragging on and is not assumed by the current governing coalition.
- Impossibility to negotiate sectoral or national collective bargaining agreements and more difficult conditions for bargaining at company level. Blocking of collective bargaining at the sector level over the past 10 years has led to the flattening of the wage scale and the alignment of wages to the level of the minimum wage or slightly above, a level that does not allow workers a decent living from their work. In the distribution of wages in Romania we have 1.6 million full-time workers paid at the level of the minimum wage, but what is even more worrying, half of all workers have wages below 1600 lei net (around 330 euro). Collective bargaining is the only tool that can lead to fair wages, established according to qualifications, experience and other criteria, and this tool is unusable due to the legislative obstacles set in Law 62/2011.
A fiscal policy that disadvantages workers
- Workers bear the most of the fiscal burden (workers pay 43.5% of their wages in social contributions and tax, compared to only 2.45% for the employer – based on international obligations). Adding the VTA, it results in more that half of income on taxes, without workers seeing the necessary benefits from this high tax burden such as quality public goods and services (which are reserved for the privileged).
- The transfer of contributions from employer to employees, three years after its adoption in 2017 by Government Emergency Decree, is still pending in Parliament, neither sanctioned nor repealed by the legislative body. Consequently, there are still employers that have not completed the 20% transfer of taxes to the employee;
- The inequitable distribution of economic growth: 52% to capital and about 38,2% to labour (data from 2019), well below the EU average of 47.8% to labour;
- The maintainance of the flat tax that has outlived its usefullness and is a source of inequality;
Calendar: The actions have started on January 14 with a seven-day Caravan of Social Rights, travelling from the northern town of Baia Mare down to Bucharest and the main public institutions. The protests are sheduled in many cities and the capital until 24th of February. FULL CALENDAR - PDF DOCUMENT
- A decent minimum wage
- Fair pensions
- Quality public services
- Unblocking collective bargaining
- Fair taxation
- Correct application of the legislation
In times of pandemic or crisis,
We all have the same rights!
 Eurostat data, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/databrowser/view/tesem160/default/table?lang=en
 Eurostat data, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php?title=Wages_and_labour_costs
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