Minister of Labor and Social Protection Violeta Alexandru announced on the night of Monday to Tuesday that she will travel to Germany to check the conditions under which Romanian workers work.
“I will personally go to Germany. I feel the need to check the working conditions in the field and talk to Romanians. I do not start from the premise that German employers are irresponsible, just as I do not treat employers in the country like that, about whom PSD [the Social Democratic Party] would say they are criminals. As I have said to all my counterparts in the EU member states where we have Romanian communities, I will be involved in promoting a European debate aimed at finding solutions so that, no matter where a European citizen works, in the European space, there should be a clear correspondence between social protection and safety measures at work”, Violeta Alexandru conveyed in a post on Facebook.
The reaction of the labor minister came a few hours after she participated in a parliamentary hearing on the situation of the Romanian workers in Germany.
She argued that the freedom of Romanians to choose the country in which to work must be respected.
The labor minister asked the Romanian workers who work abroad not to resort to labor without legal forms.
The joint committees of foreign affairs, European affairs and labor of the Senate heard on Monday the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bogdan Aurescu, and the Minister of Labor, Violeta Alexandru.
The topic of the hearing was how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection managed the movement of Romanian workers abroad, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Senate website.
“I requested an inquiry to be conducted in Germany”
Minister of Labor and Social Protection Violeta Alexandru declared at Monday’s hearing before the Parliament’s select committees that she requested an inquiry to be conducted in Germany in connection with the complaints regarding the working conditions of the Romanians in this country.
“I addressed this request to the German Labor Ministry and they confirmed to me that they discussed with the farmers and with the employers’ associations to strengthen the security and prevention measures at the farms involved. My counterparts confirmed to me that minimal protective equipment is offered, just as we do in Romania for any employee,” Alexandru said.
“The number of complaints is small. There is a contract between the German unions and Romania’s National Trade Union Bloc under which Romanian workers receive assistance if they encounter problems. (…) Statistically speaking, judging by the number of complaints, the worrying situation depicted by the media is not confirmed by figures,” said the Labor Minister.
“At the video conference of all the EU Labor Ministers last week, which was also attended by the European Commissioner in charge, I raised for discussion the need for coordination and updating the talks on a minimum set of protection, health and safety measures, which must be included in all the forms of contracts Romanians enter in the EU member states. My proposal was very well received, and a working group mechanism will be initiated to review all these forms of employment,” said Violeta Alexandru.
“I also asked the European Commissioner and the Labor Ministers to move towards bringing up to date these differences in the legal framework and in social security measures, the contributions paid for all European citizens, Romanians included. These info leaflets with all the contact data are available at border check points, in all airports and train stations. I wanted to see if information is provided properly and I can honestly tell you that this is being done, the Romanians get this information upon departure. At the same time, the Labor Inspectorate’s toll-free line is open to the people, I check daily into the status of the complaints received and how they are being addressed and how the necessary support is provided. All these problems have been rolling from the past, none of the governments solved them,” said Alexandru.
“In the discussions with the German Labor Ministry I wanted to make sure that the German employers call [the Romanians] to work with legal forms. And they are. It’s the right of our fellow citizens to negotiate their contract, they cannot be forced to work via employment agencies, but through an extensive communication campaign we have provided them with all the information they need to decide how best to proceed in preparation of the completion of their contracts,” explained the Labor Minister.
Aurescu: Exercise of MAE powers relates to contracts already concluded by workers
The exercise of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE)’ powers relates to the application of employment contracts already concluded by Romanians who go to work abroad, said on Monday, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bogdan Aurescu, at the hearing by the Senate Committees for European affairs, for foreign policy and for work, family and social protection.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs stated, in this context, that “it is very important that the contractual clauses be preliminarily drafted and concluded with due regard for the interests and rights of the Romanian workers”.
He presented a contract of this kind concluded by a Romanian seasonal worker in Germany, a contract consulted by a representative of the MAE.
According to the Foreign Affairs minister, “there was no agreement concluded between Romania and Germany to allow Romanian seasonal workers to go to Germany to work, for the simple reason that no such agreement is needed, this possibility deriving from the European legislation which provides for the free movement of laborforce.”
He added that since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed Romanian citizens about their rights.
At the same time, the MAE filed a complaint in several cases related to Romanians working abroad, Bogdan Aurescu added.
He mentioned 14 recent cases, 13 in Germany and one in the Netherlands. In Germany, Aurescu said, of the 13 cases, eight were self-referrals.
“In most cases, the Romanian embassies in Berlin and The Hague, respectively the Romanian consulates general in Bonn, Stuttgart and Munich, took notice as a result of the information reported in the media, took urgent action with the German federal and local authorities in order to check if the facts signaled are herby confirmed and to request,if necessary, the local authorities (…) to take notice,” said the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Bogdan Aurescu maintained that in all situations of this kind “there was an extremely prompt reaction and absolutely all the levers were used at the local level”.