0.8 C
Bucharest
January 22, 2021
EDITORIAL

Trade unions… as employers?

In any modern society, trade unions aim at being the foremost factors co-interested in the good evolution of the entire society. Not just through their numerical vastness or the diversity of the conditions they are acting in, but especially through the fact that trade unions represent the whole, the perspective. An employer can anytime limit its activity at a specific phase, if circumstances demand it, unlike the trade unions that are called upon to militate for permanence. This is why their actions must have in view not only the momentary interests of a human group, but mostly the perspective of the social edifice as a whole. Any tendency of diverting the trade unions’ attention from this strategic goal risks becoming a corruptible initiative, precisely because the relations between employees and employers must occur in a principle-based, correct and favourable framework that benefits to the whole economic-social and state organism.

This incorruptible equilibrium was functional in Romania until recently. Then, gradually, under the influence of political disputes, trade union structures decayed to the condition of an opportunism that is hard to understand and accept. This is worsened by the state of mind of most trade union members, which naturally was – and remains – inclined towards a rational, correct demand of their rights pertaining to work and life. The microbe of involution appeared from the behaviour of those trade union leaders which, under the pressure of corruptible offers made by employers, preferred to abandon the general interest of unionists and pursue their own material interests. This led to the current situation, when many leaders of trade union structures saw their personal wealth soar overnight. They got very rich in the very moment when layoffs and real unemployment – not the figures dissimulated in official documents – reached new peaks.The fraudulent privatisations, especially in industry, were the first blows dealt to the Romanian trade union movement. And they rewarded the betrayal of some of the trade union leaders that have the “quality” of getting wealthy overnight. The most grotesque show of this kind was witnessed during the fraudulent privatisation of the Bucharest heavy machines manufacturer IMGB. This industrial giant was born in the early 1970’s, as a strategic unit of the Romanian economy. It was equipped with state-of-the-art technology: for instance, the carousel lathe with a diameter of 12 meters was purchased from Japan, as a machine of very high performance, for over USD 100 M. With such outstanding technology, the enterprise could manufacture a very wide range of products, from fine mechanic parts to rockets. This allowed IMGB to participate in the construction of the nuclear power plant of Cernavoda, of several hydropower plants, including Iron Gates – the biggest such unit of Europe.The way to fraudulent privatisation was paved through “parasitizing” the company – also by government officials – which stopped the finite product to the phase of semi-processed items. From its initial condition of industrial unit conceived for large dimensions in view of complementing the efforts in a common structure, IMGB was split in six autonomous units. This also split the trade union of IMGB, leaving it unable to attain solidarity of reaction. This was the revenge for the street rallies of 1990 and later, in which its employees militated for labour rights and for bread, but were accused by the fake revolutionists that “IMGB wants to make order.” In these conditions, it was precisely a trade union leader from IMGB that demanded on the national television the sale of IMGB, as “the best solution to overcome the crisis.”Thus, the bankruptcy was premeditated, also with the agreement of trade unions. IMGB was sold to a foreign company at a derisory price; if one would sell as scrap iron only part of the existing machines, the income would have been much higher. The foreign company extracted the modern machines and transferred them to its home country and IMGB disappeared. Later, the same fate – premeditated bankruptcy – was prepared for other strategic units like Tractorul and Autocamionul Brasov, Electroputere Craiova, SIDEX Galati and many other strategic objectives, whose trade union leaders thus made it to the top of wealthiest Romanians. With support from many of the rulers, who invited them to this “constructive and profitable passivity,” promising them that negotiations will remain top secret. And the secret is still being kept.Such practices became traditional. The trade union leaders of Oltchim, but also of other industrial units threatened by bankruptcy, have started an acute state of protest long time ago, with frequent appeals to “hunger strike” and threats of suicide. Such attitudes are justified. The right to work and to a correct reward for it is among the fundamental human rights, recognised as such everywhere. But precisely such justified protests also incriminate the trade union leaders of all these bankrupt units, because for many years they ignored – sometimes willingly – the “parasitizing” of the respective industrial companies. Thus, they ignored the “annexing” of these state-run industrial units, of all kind of private companies which did nothing else than taking massive chunks of the profit of these state industrial units.Naturally, in all these years of “highway robbery,” trade unionists were paid in time, received many “bonuses,” premiums, which dissimulated the way parasytic companies got rich suddenly. Why the union leaders, as organisation factors interested also by the future, not just the present of the respective employees, did not report such crimes? Why, at least, they did not make public such thefts from the public wealth? Why did they entertain unnatural “relations of collaboration” with these agents of fraudulent privatisations? The answer to these questions is provided also by the current situations, when the trade unionists turned employers are the first to contribute to the collapse of trade union activities. This is why, today, fewer jobless or employees have confidence in the success of a spontaneous protest, because nobody thinks of general strike.Today, some union leaders who got rich also through the illicit actions of the State Ownership Fund, collaborate with the ruling factors. This was evident also when the law for the functioning of the National Integrity Agency was drafted. An amendment was proposed that would exempt trade union leaders from the verification of personal wealth, which is in effect for all dignitaries. Thus, instead of demanding ways to protect the interests of employees, the trade union leaders requested the right to keep their personal wealth confidential. This demonstrates the fact that, by sticking to its petty group interests, a trade union structure turns into an antisocial clan.

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