Employer organisations seek response to economic crisis
In November 2008, the Employer Confederation of Romanian Industry (CONPIROM) held a meeting to discuss the response of the Romanian industrial sector to the global financial crisis and economic downturn. As well as business and employer representatives, trade union leaders participated in the debate. The meeting also highlighted the creation of a new employer structure, the Alliance of Employer Organisations from Industry and Energy (APIE),to tackle the mounting challenges for the Romanian industry and energy sectors .
Competitiveness and the economic crisis
On 4 November 2008, the Employer Confederation of Romanian Industry (Confederaţia Patronală din Industria României CONPIROM, CONPIROM) hosted a round-table meeting on how Romanian industry can achieve prosperity and competitiveness in the European Union (EU), in the context of the current global financial crisis and economic downturn.
The meeting was attended by managers, leaders of employer organisations, experts from various industries and the energy sector, academics, researchers and representatives of international business organisations.
The leaders of four national trade union confederations were also invited to attend. These were the National Trade Union Confederation Cartel Alfa (Confederaţia Naţională Sindicală Cartel Alfa, Cartel Alfa), the National Trade Union Bloc (Blocul Naţional Sindical, BNS), the Confederation of Democratic Trade Unions in Romania (Confederaţia Sindicatelor Democratice din România, CSDR) and Frăţia National Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Romania (Confederaţia Naţională a Sindicatelor Libere din România Frăţia, CNSLR Frăţia).
In October 2008, CONPIROM signed a memorandum of cooperation with Cartel Alfa, BNS and CSDR, seeking to promote bipartite social dialogue. This initiative reflected the parties’ dissatisfaction at what they see as the poor performance of both the government and the Economic and Social Council (Consiliul Economic şi Social, CES) , the tripartite national social dialogue body.
Social partner views
During the debate at the November meeting, CONPIROM presented its viewpoint regarding the competitiveness of Romanian industry, in the context of the present global economic problems, and put forward ideas for new lines of thinking and action in the making of industrial policies. The proposals referred to, and made comparisons with, measures taken in the industrial sectors of other EU Member States, with the aim of identifying best practices at national and international levels.
The trade union leaders stated that there was a need for partnership and for a new impetus to public/private initiatives, through social dialogue and responsible cooperation between employer organisations and trade unions.
The main themes addressed in the discussions at the meeting were:
- the competitive edge that might be gained, in a context of economic crisis and global competition, by encouraging foreign capital investment;
- employment, productivity and revenues from the perspective of new technologies and the development of sustainable industries;
- assessment, measurement and prevention of the risks generated by the present financial crisis.
Concerted effort by employers
The uncertain prospects of Romanian industry as a whole, and of the energy sector in particular, were reiterated by every speaker at the meeting. One of the first responses to this situation is a decision to set up a new employer structure, the Alliance of Employer Organisations from Industry and Energy (Alianţa Patronatelor din Industrie şi Energie, APIE). The Alliance is made up of organisations in these sectors affiliated to CONPIROM and to the CONCORDIA Employers Confederation (Confederaţia Patronală CONCORDIA, CP CONCORDIA).
CONPIROM, established in 1992, states that it brings together 40 employer organisations accounting for 70% of Romania’s industrial production. Its members are signatories to 10 of Romania’s 17 sectoral collective agreements, and provide jobs to over 1 million persons.
CP CONCORDIA was established in 2007 after two employer federations in the petroleum, gas and energy sectors, and one federation of small and medium-sized employers created the Employers Confederation for Industry, Services and Commerce (Confederaţia Patronala a Industriei, Serviciilor şi a Comerţului, CPISC). They were joined by the National Union of Agricultural Producers in Romania (Uniunea Naţională a Producătorilor Agricoli din România, UNPAR), which is the umbrella for some 250,000 individual farms, and for more than 5,000 agribusinesses and farming family associations.
The purpose of the new Alliance is to promote partnerships and the harmonisation of industrial policies with those of energy providers, with the aim of better responding to present and future challenges on their respective markets.
Considering the disagreements that have so far fragmented the Romanian employers’ movement into 12 organisations representative at national level, the new APIE alliance, which has emerged in a rather complicated economic context, may be a positive development.
Also to be noted is the new structure’s concern for cooperation with three of five national trade union confederations, and their decision to meet not only to negotiate pay, but also jointly to find the means to solve economic and social difficulties at a time of crisis.
Luminita Chivu, Institute of National Economy, Romanian Academy