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January 27, 2022

PM Boc starts social dialogue… but lacks dialogue partners

Unions and most of the employers’ associations have refused to attend the National Tripartite Council for Social Dialogue meeting that the government had convened yesterday at the Palace of Parliament in order to address the tense social situation.

Premier Emil Boc attended yesterday’s meeting but the unions and most of the employers turned down the invitation. “Considering that the meeting lacks an order of the day and that the multitude of requests that the unions had were left unresolved, the unions won’t take part in the meeting,” an open letter addressed to the Premier and signed by all unions reads. At the same time, several Bucharest-based unions have also asked for an extraordinary Parliament meeting, threatening that they will otherwise consider going on general strike and advising Opposition MPs to leave Parliament.

The Council was set up last October, being made up of government, National Bank of Romania (BNR), employers and union representatives. The government announced that the Tripartite Council had been convened twice last year, on November 1 and December 6.

The Bucharest Sanitas Union (USSB), the Bucharest Union of Education System Employees (SSIB), the District 2 Independent Union of Education System Employees and the District 5 Education System Union consider the spontaneous protests that took place in the last four days in Romanian cities legitimate and expressed their solidarity with the people that protest peacefully against the current political class.

The General Union of Industrialists in Romania (UGIR-1903) announced that it rallies to the unions’ position and will boycott the National Tripartite Council’s meetings, pointing out that the decision is taken for “an unlimited period.” “UGIR-1903 rallies to the position expressed by the social dialogue partners that signed the National Agreement, the Confederation’s leadership deciding that UGIR-1903 won’t take part in the National Tripartite Council’s works, for an unlimited period, until the requests included in the Agreement, requests that were officially communicated to the Labor Ministry, are met,” the organization’s communiqué reads. The same position was adopted by three other employers’ confederations: Conpirom, the Romanian Employers and the National Union of Romanian Employers (UNPR).

The Prime Minister pointed out yesterday that he regrets the social partners’ refusal and hopes that they will attend future meetings. He added that he will not promise hiked pensions and salaries because the economic situation does not allow it, the only thing he promises being stability.

After the National Tripartite Council for Social Dialogue meeting, PM Boc said the social dialogue will go on if protests continue and that if this dialogue does not come to any result, parliamentary solutions must be sought. Boc also announced that there will be consultations with the Opposition parties the following days. In another line of thoughts, the Prime-Minister heralded that the Council agreed on some economic measures to create new jobs, such as short deadlines for setting up a company, additional financial support for young investors, fiscal incentives for companies which are hiring unemployed persons, young or old people.

PDL First Vice-President Teodor Baconschi announced yesterday on his blog that today he will start “a first round of consultations” with civil society after PDL gave him the mandate to do so on Monday. Baconschi also wrote that the people that came out to protest on Monday fortunately “shunned the outburst of vandalism that took place the day before, displaying balance and civism,” and that “the opposition seems to have toned down the vehemence it displayed lately.” PDL spokesperson Sever Voinescu announced on Monday that PDL decided to start a dialogue on three levels, Baconschi being tasked with dealing with civic organizations, Oltean with unions and PM Boc with political parties, including Opposition parties.

Most Democrat-Liberal leaders stressed that the protests put Romania’s image at risk and that social dialogue is needed. PDL First Vice-President Gheorghe Flutur stated yesterday that every day of protests, particularly violent protests, means at least one less investor in Romania and the government has to intensify dialogue and find economic solutions for the people. In his turn, MEP Cristian Preda underlined on his blog the need for government intervention in social dialogue, warning that “executive paralysis may give the impression that the regime is made up only of riot police with muscles, not also of ministers with brains.” In his opinion, if Emil Boc does not act “promptly and intelligently his own supporters will force him to leave.”

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