They threaten to stop work indefinitely both in the subway system and at RATB if their claims are not solved before September 30, union leader Ion Radoi stated. PM Victor Ponta said the business conducted by the union company in the subway system can no longer be tolerated.
Over 3,000 trade unionists in Bucharest, Galati, Braila, Cluj and Craiova started a protest march from Piata Victoriei, through Calea Victoriei, Natiunile Unite Bridge, Natiunile Unite Boulevard, Libertatii Boulevard, to Piata Constitutiei, stopping there to protest until 3.30 p.m.. The protest organized by the Transport Union Federation, Transloc and “ATU – Romania” Public Services began at 1 p.m. in Piata Victoriei, where approximately 1,500 unionists gathered initially and their number grew.
At the start of the weekly government session on Wednesday, PM Victor Ponta said the business conducted by the union company in the subway system can no longer be tolerated and although it may be seen as an offence, it cannot be made right. “I will ask Ministers Manescu, Voinea and Campeanu to resume discussions with Metrorex representatives at the end of the session. They want bigger wages, but we pay 800 million (RON – editor’s note) in subway subsidies from Romanian citizens. Everything that can be done is being done, but all subway related business should not be conducted through the union company. That is unacceptable”, the PM said. Unionists in Piata Victoriei chanted “Down, down, down with the lying government”, “Shame, shame, you should be ashamed”, “Ponta now promotes the new, by destroying first the subway”, “Through improper laws you vote for frozen wages”, “You and the IMF have agreed to put us in our graves”, “Oprescu, after we voted for you, you’ve buried us”. At the start of the protest, when Federation Chairman Ion Radoi invited demonstrators to salute the government and PM Victor Ponta, they responded by booing.
Radoi characterized Ponta as “the Prime Minister most indifferent and arrogant in relation to unions since 1990” because he has responded to none of the 11 letters of complaint sent by public transport representatives. The Chairman announced that protesters will submit a new letter on union claims to the government.
Road traffic during the march was restricted on the protesters’ route and adjiacent streets, as well as in Piata Constitutiei, on Unirii and Libertatii Boulevards.
According to Radoi, unionists are requesting the amendment of the current social legislation and complain that it is impossible to negotiate joint labor contracts since the wages fund is stuck at the level of 2008. Unionists threaten to stop work indefinitely both in the subway system and at RATB if their claims are not solved before September 30. Ion Radoi pointed out that the warning strike was organized because of the failed negotiations with Metrorex management on September 12.
The union leader also mentioned that unions of both Metrorex and RATB will come together in the general subway strike, thus the public transport traffic in Bucharest will be blocked on September 30 until 4 p.m. Transport union protest ended yesterday without incident.
Metrorex management does not agree with the strike
However, the Metrorex management does not agree with the protests. “The company’s image is being damaged, especially since Metrorex has been making remarkable modernization and development efforts and has tried to continuously adapt to market demands. In conclusion, the administration believes the right to go on strike must be applied only in accordance with the conditions and restrictions of the law, and as long as the legal warranties to ensure the provision of essential services to the community are met with and general interests are protected. The Metrorex management has always showed its availability and openness to negotiating the Joint Labor Contract”, a press release signed by General Manager Aurel Radu notes.
He also stated that he hopes all Metrorex employees respond to the administration’s request to stop the strike, “as it is in our best interest, and in the best interest of both employees and passengers”, he concluded. On September 5, the Minister of Transport stated he disapproved with the subway union’s intention to go on general strike and, in this respect, has asked Metrorex to come up with immediate solutions to meet employees’ claims.
Strike of public transport drivers in Constanta, illegal
The spontaneous strike of RATC (public transport operator) Constanta drivers that took place at the start of the week was found illegal by the court, but magistrates have decided not to cut employees’ salaries because of losses incurred by the company during the two days of protest. On Wednesday, the Court of Law in Constanta approved RATC Constanta’s request and found the public transport drivers’ strike illegal. However, the magistrates rejected RATC Constanta’s request for compensations from the drivers for the two days of protest. The court’s decision is not definitive and can be appealed within 10 days.
RATC management claims they will not give up their claim for compensations from the protesters for losses incurred during the two days of strike and they plan to contest the court’s decision, especially considering a decision in this respect was already adopted by the local councilors of Constanta.