At a plenary session on Monday, the Chamber of Deputies passed, by 184 ayes and one abstention, an ordinance providing for increases by an average 15 percent in the public pay for doctors and teachers, as amended by its specialist committees.
The 15-percent pay increase would also include school inspectorate staff and administrative staff.
Under an amendment, social workers would also have their pay increased by 15 percent.
The MPs on the labour and budget committees also passed an amendment under which the gross pay of the own staff working with the National Healthcare Insurance House would increase by 25 percent over the August 2016 level, effective as of December 1, 2017.
The lawmakers of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR) and the national minorities have announced they will vote for the bill in its final version. The MP group of the National Liberal Party (PNL) did not attend the debates.
Labour Minister Dragos Pislaru said the amendments passed by the committees to Emergency Ordinance 20/2016 concerning public pay will lead to a polarisation among the public employees, urging the lawmakers to leave the piece of legislation as is in order to avoid “selling illusions to the people.”
“The effects of the changes suggested by the committee will be a polarisation between newcomers and the existing public employees. (…) The largest share of the pay increase will go to those on the highest pay. So, please, at this important moment for the country, understand that the way in which the report was done, pay to those already drawing the highest pay will increase the most, while it will increase the least for newcomers and those we want to keep with us in Romania – pharmacists, nurses, teachers and professors. It is not fair for the executives to have their pay increase by 50 percent, when our problem is the fate of countryside teachers,” Pislaru told a plenary debate on the ordinance held by the Chamber of Deputies.
He added that fairness is an important issue, given what he called “concealed things” in the pay scale that would lead to the pay for pharmacists going up 53 percent; the increase for accountants to 63 percent, and the increase for school principals to 53 percent.
Dragnea to Gov’t: People, wake up, stop keeping the money unspent!
PSD President Liviu Dragnea accused the Government on Monday that it has sufficient funds for the salary hikes that the Lower Chamber’s special commissions have decided, claiming that the lack of funds is “a big lie” and the deficit would not be at risk.
“Parliament cannot be stopped from passing laws. Nowhere in the world can a Parliament be stopped from legislating,” Dragnea answered the accusations according to which the law of fiscal-budgetary responsibility is being broken, pointing out that the said law concerns the Government.
He accused the Government of “sowing disorder in the system” through emergency ordinance no.20/2016 and that 29 billion lei will remain unspent this year, according to official data.
“If someone from the Finance Ministry wants to contradict me, let them do it anytime. (…) After they took back their country, they have 29 billion unspent,” the Social Democrat leader pointed out, adding that extra funds will be made available as a result of the economic growth.
“People, wake up, stop keeping the money unspent and the people with low salaries,” Dragnea stated within the Lower Chamber.
He reiterated his “warning” for the Ciolos Government that the spreading of false information concerning the country’s budget falls under the incidence of the Criminal Code and represents “an attack on national security.”
UDMR MPs and the representatives of ethnic minorities also expressed opinions in favour of salary hikes, emphasising that the hiking of local administration civil servants’ salaries is an urgent requirement.
Pislaru: It’s the Government’s duty to turn to CCR
The Government is mulling lodging with the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR) an appeal against emergency ordinance no.20/2016 on public sector salaries, an emergency ordinance that the Lower Chamber adopted after bringing its own amendments to it, Labour Minister Dragos Pislaru announced on Monday.
“Just as we did in the case of the special pensions, just as we did in the case of any measures that have an unbearable impact, it is the Government’s duty to turn to the body that can settle these conflicts between branches of government. The Constitutional Court should tell us whether it is constitutional or not to adopt such a package of laws without pointing out any [financing] sources. We are first waiting to see what is happening, then in a few days’ time we will have this demarche on the Government’s part,” Pislaru said when asked whether the Government is considering lodging an appeal against the law.
He stated that a public sector salary bill could have been implemented long ago, if desired.
“If this public sector salary bill was so badly wanted it could have been implemented since 2010, ever since we have this bill. If we want to have a law on salary standards, we must learn some lessons from the past. These lessons basically mean – and I don’t mean I’m here to lecture Parliament but I would have expected us, alongside Parliament, to learn from the past – we should have set off from a feasible budget, a phased approach that would not discriminate between categories of public sector employees and should have had an equitable approach meaning one in which we would have looked at the whole salary grid instead of raising the highest salaries,” Pislaru added.
He also said that at least some part of this law will not be enforced because of a lack of resources.
“I am convinced that, just like the examples of those annual laws that are prorogued, frozen from one year to the next, similarly at least one part of this law will not immediately find its resources. It’s the future Government’s business how they will form their budget,” Pislaru emphasised.