Romania: Latest working life developments - Q3 2016

Protests and strikes, the transposition of European directives on labour relations, a wage policy to encourage some workers and attempts to improve some public sector salaries are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Romania in the third quarter of 2016.

Protests and strikes

A national protest by the National Federation of Administration Trade Unions (FNSA) took place in mid-July. FNSA claims local public administration employees are not only the poorest paid and worst treated public sector employees but, also, that most of them are on the minimum gross wage of RON 1,250 per month (€277 as at 21 October 2016). FNSA demanded a 25% pay increase, a food allowance for all public administration employees and holiday vouchers, granted on the grounds of performance criteria. After initial negotiations failed, street protests were organised, but the conflict ended after new negotiations were successful.

Convicts from several prisons also protested in mid-July, demanding better living conditions. The Minister of Justice, Raluca Alexandra Prună, said that she was aware of all the problems, including overcrowding and that she was trying to manage them. On 30 September, the National Trade Union of Penitentiary Workers (SNLP) launched a series of protest actions over the government’s failure to compensate prison workers for extensive overtime and to meet the shortfall of 8,000 staffing positions in the country’s prisons. In October, members of the Federation of Trade Unions of Public Administration (PUBLISIND) and the National Administration of Penitentiaries Federation (FSANP) joined the protests, demanding merit pay and increased salaries, setting out a calendar of indefinite strike action.

On 1 August, doctors demanded higher payments for extra work hours, fair bonuses according to working conditions, night shift bonuses and for wage inequities to be resolved. On 20 September, over 200 members of the SANITAS healthcare trade union confederation picketed the Ministry of Labour in Bucharest. The doctors have announced extensive protests and strikes for 12–31 October.

In August, there were spontaneous protests over wage increases by workers at Metrorex, the company which runs the Bucharest Metro, and by workers at ArcelorMittal. In mid-September court clerks and judges suspended work for several hours, in a national protest at working conditions and wage inequities.

On 15 September, some 1,000 vehicles were involved in a protest in the centre of Bucharest regarding rising mandatory insurance rates. The protest was organised by road haulage employer associations, including:

  • National Union of Romanian Road Hauliers (UNTRR);
  • Federation of Romanian Transport Operators (FORT);
  • Apulum Association for Road Transport Operators (Apulum);
  • Transport Employers Association Europe 2002 (APTE 2002).

Subsequently, the hauliers and representatives of the Financial Supervisory Authority (ASF) agreed on an annual rate of RON 7,500 RON (€1,663) per truck.

Transposition of European directives and legal amendments

Since 1 July, the monthly allowance for parental leave (for up to 2 years) is paid at the rate of 85% of the claimant’s average net income in the previous 12 months, with the upper limit abolished. But, after only one month, this caused a huge imbalance. According to the Ministry of Labour, 0.17% of the total number of beneficiaries (242 people) consumed a third of the entire budget. This situation will be subject to public debate in the next period.

Starting with the income for August 2016, research and development employees are no longer subject to payroll tax (Emergency Government Ordinance no. 32/2016 supplementing Law no. 227/2015 regarding the Fiscal Code and regulation of certain financial and fiscal measures).

As union representatives claimed that the unique pay law brought certain disadvantages for some categories of employees, Emergency Ordinance no. 43/2016 amended the rules on the remuneration of personnel paid from public funds in 2016, especially for employees in education, health and ministries and judicial staff.

In response to Directive 2014/67/EU on the enforcement of Directive 96/71/EC concerning the posting of workers, the Government approved the draft of the transposing law, which was  then submitted to Parliament for debate and adoption.

As a reaction to the European Commission's letter of formal notice no. 2013/4233, in June 2016 the Romanian Government adopted Decision no. 411/2016, revoking Article 5 of Government Decision no. 250/1992 regarding annual leave and other types of leave for employees in public administration. While previously the law stipulated that an employee may only take leave in proportion to the actual time worked, now the periods during which the employee took sick leave, maternity leave, maternity risk leave or leave to care for a sick child shall be also taken into account in setting the duration of the leave.

In September 2016, Government Ordinance no. 25/2016 about third-country nationals amended Government Ordinance no. 25/2014 on employment, transposing Directive 2014/36/EU and Directive 2014/66/EU on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals in the framework of an intra-corporate transfer.

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