The flow of metro trains was disrupted on Friday morning by a spontaneous protest of several representatives of the USLM (Metro Free Union) in the Unirii Square station, the protesters going down in the tunnel, on the rail road, and preventing passenger trains from starting on time, according to normal hours, Metrorex informs.
“The so-called spontaneous protest is in fact a union action, during which USLM representatives refused any attempt at dialogue with Metrorex management. Although the trade unionists made it clear that they had a list of requests, repeated invitations to meet with the company’s management were completely ignored over the night,” Metrorex representatives said in a statement.
They point out that because of the union’s action, but especially because of the safety of its members, who were on the rail road, the metro lines could not be switched on for the operation of passenger trains.
“In this way we would like to make an apology to the Bucharesters and ask them to understand that, although we consider the union action unjustified, we cannot risk the lives of some people. We also assure the inhabitants of the Capital City that we take all legal action at our disposal to restart the metro’s activity safely”, state Metrorex representatives quoted by Agerpres.
PM Citu: Subway protest is illegal, I asked IntMin Bode to take measures
Prime Minister Florin Citu affirms that the subway protest is illegal, provoked by a former Social Democratic Party (PSD) deputy who “is losing his sinecures”, and announces that he has asked the Minister of Interior, Lucian Bode, to take measures.
“A former PSD deputy, who sees his sinecures disappear, makes an illegal protest. That is what the illegal action that blocked the subway this morning is about. From my point of view, no one is above the law, that’s what I conveyed to the minister and he needs to take action. The people of Bucharest must not suffer because a former PSD deputy is losing his sinecures. I conveyed the same message to Minister Bode,” the prime minister wrote on Facebook on Friday.
Minister of Transport: Subway protest, an illegal action, disrupts life of entire city
The fact that the ‘Unitatea’ Metro Free Trade Union (USLM) union blocks the Bucharest subway is a slap in the face of the entire of Romania, and when mafia interests are threatened, a handful of people fret over preserving privileges and sinecures, reads Transport Minister Catalin Drula’s Facebook post on Friday morning.
“An illegal action disrupted the life of an entire city. The fact that the USLM union blocks the Bucharest metro is a slap in the face of the entire of Romania. We are not just talking about the inhabitants of the Capital, who today could not travel by Metrorex subway trains. But all taxpayers who support through national budget subsidy the activity and, obviously, the company’s salaries. The honest people who work at the subway came this morning to work for the benefit of the passengers. For them I have all the appreciation,” underlines Catalin Drula.
He advises subway employees not to be fooled by pointing out that the well-being of the staff is not what is at stake by illegally occupying subway tracks.
The protest comes just one day after Metrorex announced that it had notified the company managing the commercial spaces inside the metro stations that, by April 2, these spaces must be released and handed over to the underground transport network administrator.
The company was stressing that the ongoing activities in the commercial spaces located in the evacuation route inside the subway premises “endanger the safety of people in case of emergency, as well as their fast and safe evacuation”. According to Metrorex, they create an unfavorable environment for the traveling public by crowding goods outside the commercial space, overcrowding with combustible goods, alcoholic beverages and the sale of pastries.
In reply, the representatives of the ‘Unitatea’ Metro Free Trade Union (USLM) transmitted that all the subway shops were built according to the legislation in force, with the approval of Metrorex, and 80% of them are the property of the subway unions.
According to the cited source, the general manager of Metrorex, who was “parachuted in” politically, “may not have taken note of these issues, but we ask him not to come up with such “evidence of faith” to those who appointed him and should communicate to the ministry and the citizens that, through the draft budget he wants to impose as a sign of “loyalty”, he will close Metro Line 5, although last year it was an important event for the Romanian Government, and by the massive dismissal of train mechanics the activity of Metro Line 2 will be blocked.
“Already, as of tomorrow, March 26, ten subway trains will not be going out due to lack of qualified personnel. Care for traffic safety and obtaining the necessary funds for proper operation must take precedence in the activity of the general manager, not care for those who appointed him to office,” the trade unionists specified.
The number of daily commuters by subway in the Capital amounts to approximately 700,000.
STB increases vehicle park to maximum, following subway protest
The Bucharest Transport Company STB, has increased their vehicle park to the maximum, on Friday morning, especially for lines that function on routes which ensure transportation between subway stations, even calling to work drivers from home.
The measure is determined by the spontaneous strike of the subway union, which blocked the circulation of trains.
“The Inter-community Development Association for Bucharest-Ilfov Public Transportation (TPBI) dispatched on Friday morning that the three operators that ensure public transportation to take all necessary measures in order to take on the flow of passengers through surface transportation, as a result of the spontaneous protest held by the Bucharest subway workers. Thus, STB increased the vehicle park to the maximum, especially for the lines that function on routes which ensure transportation between subway stations, even calling to work employees who were at home,” according to a press release sent by TPBI to AGERRPES.
TPBI also specifies that it is monitoring the flow of passengers and will dispatch additional measures, based on the fluctuations.
Separately, in a press release sent to AGERPRES, STB specifies that the vehicles which were scheduled to retire to the garages, will be kept en route, in order to increase the transportation capacity in the period between rush hours.
Unionist Radoi: Subway protests are about salary cuts, layoffs, nothing to do with the commercial spaces
The subway protests were organized as a result of the dissatisfaction of trade unionists caused by Metrorex’s [the Bucharest subway company – editor’s note] to reduce employees’ salaries and lay off staff and has nothing to do with the situation of the commercial spaces, the head of the Unitatea – Sindicatul Liber din Metrou (USLM) trade union, Ion Radoi, told AGERPRES on Friday.
“When there are talks of layoffs and cutting down salaries, one doesn’t expect anything good. When they leave you without a job, when they leave you without a salary, with a 25pct cut, that is, you cannot really accept it. A few days have passed and, I wasn’t quite sure how far they’ll go [the trade unions – editor’s note] and here they are [the protest action – editor’s note],” said Ion Radoi.
The USLM leader claimed that the situation of the subway commercial spaces is politically speculated by the leadership of the Ministry of Transport.
“The fact that they [the Ministry of Transport – editor’s note] want to suggest it like this, that this is about what this company means to the trade union, with the spaces, that’s another matter. It’s a lie. They have speculated this politically. (…) they want to cut some of the rights too, from the income of the employees, who work day and night, and in the weekends too, and on holidays too. This is the reason [behind the protests – editor’s note]. The fact that they have come up with this too, at this point [with the idea of removing the commercial spaces from the subway – editor’s note], this was only the cherry on top, and it is because the general manager was an administrator at Obor Square and he is used to doing business,” Ion Radoi said.
Drula: Only law enforcement authorities can clear the tracks from these illegals
Law enforcement authorities must restore order in the metro traffic, because only such authorities “can clear the tracks from these illegals,” Transport and Infrastructure Minister Catalin Drula said on Friday.
“I urge the authorities responsible for law enforcement to restore order and resume metro traffic. At this time, as we have a public order disturbance, the measures to be taken are of a public order nature. (…) and the law enforcement authorities must do their duty, because only they can clear the tracks from these illegals,” said Catalin Drula.
The transport minister indicated that he does not support the dialogue with the metro protesters, because their action is illegal, and stressed that the Romanian state will not take any step back “in front of the mafia”.
The transport minister said that the blocking the metro increases the risk of disease in other means of transport.
Transport Minister files complaint with DNA related to subway strike
The Minister of Transport, Catalin Drula, announced on his Facebook page that he filed a criminal complaint with the DNA (National Anti-corruption Directorate) against those responsible for blocking the subway, whom he accuses of hampering the fight against diseases, abuse of office and crimes against traffic safety on the railways.
He points out that “the illegal action of a mafia group to take a city hostage” cannot go unanswered by the authorities and the judiciary.
“The subway must be released and must return to circulation. Only then can a real dialogue be organized on subway issues. The fat accounts of the company controlled by Ion Radoi are not a legitimate subject of dialogue and should not be fed from the state treasury,” said Catalin Drula.
IntMin Bode: Those who assumed to participate in subway strike will pay before the law
Interior Minister Lucian Bode said on Friday, during his visit to Bihor County, that those people who assumed the participation in the metro protest, even as a spontaneous labor conflict, will pay before the law because the provisions in force oblige to ensuring at least one third of the transport capacity.
“The law is law for everyone. When you assume to start a conflict, even if it is spontaneous, you must be aware that this is illegal in the state of alert. When you start a labor dispute, in terms of public metro transport, you must know that you have a legal obligation to ensure at least one third of the metro transport in Bucharest. Unfortunately, these things have been disregarded by those who participate in this spontaneous labor dispute and consequently will bear the legal provisions in force. (…) We have opened a criminal investigation case in the sense that the legal provisions on ensuring the continuity of public transport are not observed. (…) These violations of the law will have to be clarified in court. Who assumed such an action, be it spontaneous, will pay before the law,” the interior minister said.
Lucian Bode once again expressed his hope that this conflict will be resolved through dialogue, and not through the intervention of law enforcement.
He also mentioned that a complaint was received from the Metrorex management in which the metro protesters are accused of sabotage and terrorism, the complaint being urgently forwarded to DIICOT [The Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism].
The Bucharest Police announced on Friday they launched investigations, under the supervision of prosecutors, regarding the start of the metro strike by the organizers in violation of the legal provisions, as the transport services are not provided for at least one third of the normal activity.
According to a release sent on Friday, the Bucharest Police also announced that a notification was received from Metrorex, regarding the violation of art. 1 of Law 535/2004, on preventing and combating terrorism.
Deputy PM Barna: Transport Minister Catalin Drula will not give in to the pressure of the organizers of the “illegal” protest action
Deputy Prime Minister Dan Barna, co-chair of the Save Romania Union – Party of Liberty, Unity and Solidarity (USR PLUS) Alliance, said on Friday that the Romanian state will not give in to the “blackmail” pressure of “mafia groups,” noting that there is a willingness to dialogue on condition of traffic resumption, and Transport Minister Catalin Drula will not give in to the pressure of the organizers of the “illegal” protest action.
“The Romanian state will not give in to the blackmail pressure of some mafia groups. Since this morning I have been at the Ministry of Transport alongside Catalin Drula and I have been in constant contact with the prefect of the capital city and all the authorities responsible for resolving the Bucharest metro crisis. I can assure you that Minister Catalin Drula (…) will not give in to any pressure from the organizers of an illegal, dangerous and irresponsible action,” Barna wrote on Facebook.
He mentioned that there is willingness to dialogue, but the first condition is the resumption of metro traffic.
“There is willingness to dialogue, even at this moment the director of Metrorex is discussing at the Prefecture with the representatives of those sent by Mr. Radoi to protest illegally, but the first condition for any discussion remains the resumption of the metro traffic,” added Dan Barna.
Bucharest Prefect: Representatives of Metrorex employees understood that it is important to cease the protest, metro traffic to be resumed on Saturday
The representatives of Metrorex employees understood that it is important to cease the protest, with the metro traffic to be resumed on Saturday, Bucharest City prefect Alin Stoica said on Friday.
“People have understood that it is important to stop the protest and tomorrow morning, given that technically it takes a few hours to restore the circuits, traffic will resume,” Alin Stoica said on Friday, at the Bucharest Prefecture seat, where a meeting took place with the union representatives (Free Metro Union – USLM from Metrorex SA and the National Confederation of Free Trade Unions from Romania – CNSLR Fratia), Metrorex SA management and representatives of the underground workers who protested.
The prefect stressed that he is not involved in the negotiations between Metrorex and the unions. “My interest was to start the metro traffic (…) I mediated the meeting, I convened both parties at 13:30 and things were resolved,” Stoica explained.
Compiled from Agerpres