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January 31, 2023

Wave of announced layoffs sparks street protests

Approximately 200 members of the CFR union protested on Tuesday outside the Finance Ministry’s headquarters against the announced layoffs.
Protests took place in several cities yesterday as a result of recent information concerning certain or possible layoffs. Two hundred members of the Federation of Locomotive Mechanics protested yesterday for the second consecutive day outside the headquarters of the Finance Ministry, being dissatisfied with the layoffs that would take place at CFR, with the absence of severance payments and the lowering of working time from five to four days per week, the latter resulting in a 20 per cent pay cut. According to Mediafax, the members of the trade union stated that they want the salaries of CFR employees to be at least EUR 500, pointing out that if there are money for very high salaries offered to “generals and colonels” there should be resources for them too. The people also asked for cuts in the number of rumored layoffs, namely in the sacking of 4,500 persons, subsidies for CFR, as well as the earmarking of funds for investments. The protesters shouted “general strike,” “resignation,” “down with Ponta” and “Gherghina, the people asks for your resignation.”
During the protest a delegation of trade union members discussed with the representatives of the Finance Ministry. Iulian Mantescu, the leader of the Federation of Locomotive Mechanics, stated after the talks that Minister Liviu Voinea, Gheorghe Gherghina and other secretaries of state with the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Finances promised that they will try to do something during the budget rectification, stating that for the time being they do not have financial solutions. “It’s inadmissible to issue an ordinance, namely ordinance 36, without having the budget cover,” Mantescu stated. He pointed out that the members of the trade union will protest outside the Finance Ministry today too, starting at 10 AM, especially since the IMF delegation will be there for talks starting at 9 AM.
The Ministry of Transportation (MT) however rejected through a press communiqué the information that Realitatea TV presented on Monday evening, information according to which the privatization of SNTFM CFR Marfa SA entails the laying off of 4,500 persons. According to the aforementioned source, the signing of the privatization contract does not include any official agreement concerning the laying off of employees. Nevertheless, the MT admits that during the previous meeting that the MT’s leadership had with the social partners from the railways system the latter were given assurances that all necessary measures will be taken in order for the employees laid off to benefit from social protection through the offering of severance payments, in line with emergency ordinance 36/2013.
Protests in Suceava too
Protests took place outside the Suceava Prefecture too, where several dozen persons laid off from the Termica SA heating company went into the streets for two hours, asking for the implementation of an emergency ordinance concerning collective layoffs, a move that would supplement their unemployment benefits up to the sum of RON 1,539 per month and would offer them the severance payments in line with the collective work contract. The protesters carried placards reading “All promises are made on TV,” “Austerity is a problem, not a solution,” “An independent judiciary” and “Real social dialogue” and shouted “thieves” and “liars.” Those laid off from Termica SA started their protests two weeks ago, organizing meetings in front of the Administrative Palace and the Suceava City Hall. We remind our readers that the Suceava Local Council approved in May the plan on restructuring the company, which entailed the laying off of 295 of the 569 employees, with those laid off set to have received severance payments in line with the collective work contract.
Wants to be euthanized because he is unemployed
The people’s desperation has reached unprecedented levels in Turda where a 58-year-old local who was sacked from the Nokia plant and the Mechel Service Campia Turzii plant has asked several institutions to euthanize him because he has no income, has found no job and the period of unemployment benefits has ended. “I have three years left until retirement but nobody hires me at 58,” the man said. He pointed out that if his request is not approved he will go on hunger strike starting on July 31.
Daniel Don, the director of the Cluj County’s Employment Agency (AJOFM), claims that the man could be hired by a company that benefits from a RON 500 monthly subsidy from the state if it hires persons that have three years left before retirement. “On Wednesday (today – editor’s note) we scheduled for him an interview at a company in Cluj-Napoca. We have two other possibilities, two companies from the Campia Turzii industrial park. We will see,” Don said.

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