Justice Minister Raluca Pruna was jeered on Monday at the Gherla Penitentiary, where over 100 employees protested and demanded salary hikes. Around 50 trade union members protested at the Poarta Alba Penitentiary in Constanta too, Mediafax informs.
Over 100 Gherla Penitentiary employees gathered outside the institution on Monday morning, expressing their dissatisfaction with the working conditions and demanding salary hikes, the elimination of pay gaps, of the shortage of employees and the sacking of the Justice Minister for “professional inability.” Protesters want salaries similar to those earned by defence sector employees.
The protesters had banners reading “Shame on you,” “Law should be enforced, not broken” and “Stop discrimination.”
At the same time, the protesters carried bags of plums (a jab at the Justice Minister’s surname – Pruna – which means “plum” in Romanian).
Likewise, protesters chanted “resign,” “shame on you,” “down with the lying minister” and “down with the lying Government.”
The moment Justice Minister Raluca Pruna arrived at the penitentiary, protesters started jeering her. One of the employees stated that protesters are waiting for a meeting with the Justice Minister in order to inform her of their demands.
“We’ve started protests in all Romanian penitentiaries and we are asking for the improvement of working conditions, the hiring of a sufficient number of employees, because there is a significant shortage, the elimination of pay gaps and the sacking of the Justice Minister for professional inability. We have [carried out] 1.5 million extra work hours in the penitentiaries, impossible to recuperate because of the shortage of 8,000 employees,” he said.
The protesters’ delegation was invited to take part in talks with the Justice Minister.
Raluca Pruna arrived at the Gherla Penitentiary on Monday alongside Norwegian ambassador Tove Westberg, in order to inaugurate a therapeutic centre for women. The centre has a capacity of 60 beds and was financed with 1.2 million Euros from Norwegian grants.
In Constanta, dozens of Poarta Alba Penitentiary and Poarta Alba Penitentiary Hospital employees gathered outside the institution on Monday morning, protesting against “the Government’s discrimination” and the lack of personnel and demanding the improvement of working conditions and better salaries.
The approximately 50 persons started their protest around 9 a.m., carrying a banner reading “The law should be enforced, not broken! Stop discrimination!” They chanted slogans against Justice Minister Raluca Pruna and Labour Minister Dragos Paslaru, asking for their resignations: “Pruna don’t linger, resign!” and “You’re leading us poorly, you’re pointless!”
Trade union members protested outside the Poarta Alba Penitentiary for approximately 40 minutes. There were no incidents.
National Penitentiary Administration trade unions have announced protests throughout Romanian penitentiaries starting this week.
Pruna: Regrettable that laws are adopted before financial and human resources are secured
In Romania laws are adopted before financial and human resources are secured, Justice Minister Raluca Pruna stated after her negotiations with penitentiary employees, adding that she can give examples of “laws that are wonderful, but in an ideal world,” because in reality the funds are not there.
Justice Minister Raluca Pruna stated at the Gherla Penitentiary on Monday that it is regrettable that in Romania laws are adopted without first making sure that the financial and human resources needed exist.
“It is regrettable that in this country we adopt laws before seeing whether we have the financial and human resources needed. I can mention 20 laws that are wonderful, but in an ideal world, laws for which funds do not exist. And probation is a very good example,” Pruna said.
“In a country with limited resources, the cake is this big and the problem is how to share it,” Pruna added.
Referring to the enforcement of Government Emergency Ordinance no.20/2016, the minister said she will talk with the Labour Minister and the Finance Minister in order for penitentiary system employees to benefit from salary hikes just like the employees of other institutions, such as the Armed Forces and the Romanian Intelligence Service.
In what concerns the demand to hire more people, the minister said she will ask for more personnel to be hired within the probation system, where 355 persons are handling 58,000 persons, in contrast to 15,000 National Penitentiary Administration employees handling 28,000 persons convicted.
“There are 15,000 jobs, 1,000 have retired but 1,800 will be hired. In what concerns extra work hours, I will talk with my defence sector colleagues because these hours are not paid everywhere,” the Justice Minister said.
She told trade unions that they can insult her however they please on their websites, in relation to the way she dresses or speaks, but she will continue to do her job.
One of the trade union members present at the meeting complained that in the penitentiary system around 11,000 employees are left and are expected to do the job of 20,000, “which is impossible.”
The protest outside the Gherla Penitentiary lasted 2 hours, ending at 12 p.m. not at 3 p.m. as initially scheduled.
Penitentiaries administration says it noted the claims of prison system’s staff
The leadership of the National Administration of the Penitentiaries (ANP) states that the claims of the unions in the prison system have been noted, but draws attention to the fact that the employees can’t use strikes or voluntary disruptions of the activities, that they can organize protests in the legal limits.
“According to the Statute of the public clerks having a special status in the prison administration system, the employees within the system have the right to associate in unions and professional associations. In order to exercise their union rights, they can’t use strikes or voluntary disruptions of their activity. The protest forms legally expressed, without affecting the penitentiaries safety and granting the respect for the fundamental rights of the people deprived of liberty, represent equal rights of the public employees with a special status,” the ANP states in a press release sent to Agerpres on Monday.