The summit of the European Political Community took place in Chisinau
The President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, reaffirmed, on Thursday, in Chișinău during the second edition of the European Political Community (ECP) summit, the importance of support for Ukraine, a country that continues to be the target of Russia's 'merciless' attacks. The head of state declared that the summit hosted by the Republic of Moldova is illustrative of its European vocation, of the seriousness of the reform efforts dedicated to its accession to the EU, and proves the focus of attention on the entire Eastern Neighborhood and the Black Sea region. Iohannis welcomed the presence at the meeting of Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine. The consolidation of the Republic of Moldova also means the consolidation of Europe's strategic resilience, the leader from Bucharest remarked. Almost 50 heads of state and government met in the Republic of Moldova, the host of the summit being President Maia Sandu. She specified that the presence of European leaders is clear proof that Moldova is not alone. The European Commission was represented by its president, Ursula von der Leyen, and the head of diplomacy, Josep Borrell. The leaders discussed security and peace, the development of economic and social infrastructure in the European space, but also the war in Ukraine. The ECP is an intergovernmental format for debate, and a platform for political coordination between European states in order to promote political dialogue and cooperation on topics of common interest, to strengthen security, stability and prosperity on the continent. The first ECP meeting took place in October 2022 in Prague.
The general strike in education continues
In Bucharest, the trade unions in education announced that the general strike will continue on Tuesday, after the mini-vacation for Children's Day and Orthodox Pentecost. The announcement was made after the new round of consultations with the executive on Thursday. Previously, he had adopted the emergency ordinance which stipulates that the salary of teaching and auxiliary teaching staff will increase by 1,000 lei gross monthly (200 euros), respectively by 400 lei (approx. 80 euros) gross for non-teaching staff. The trade unions consider these increases to be insufficient, and at the same time reject the government's proposal that future increases be made in stages, within a maximum of 3 years from the enforcement of the new wage law. According to promises made by the authorities, in the future scheme for state employee incomes, the salary of a beginner teacher will be related to the average gross salary in the economy, and will represent the reference point for the salary scheme in education. President Klaus Iohannis expressed his hope that teachers will return to school on Tuesday. He asked the teachers not to cause difficulties at the national exams. In addition to the strike, massive street protests have taken place in the last few days, both in the capital and in numerous cities in Romania. The unions demand a 25% increase in the incomes of all employees, and for beginners a salary at the level of the gross average for the economy, i.e. almost 4,000 lei (approx. 800 euros). Employees in education went on strike on May 22, dissatisfied with the level of wages and working conditions.
Protests in Romania
In addition to education employees, prison police officers are starting to protest. They reject the increase of the retirement age to 65 years, as they claim that the life expectancy of employees in the system is 62 years. On Wednesday, some of them postponed the start of work, in order to express their dissatisfaction regarding the level of wages and working conditions. Court clerks announced that they will join the protests started by the other categories of employees in the budget system. They also criticize the raising of the retirement age to 65, including for auxiliary staff in the courts. For their part, on Monday, in the capital, hundreds of employees from the national railway company, CFR, organized a protest rally. They accuse the continuation of the degradation of working conditions, and the fact that there is no salary at CFR Călători that would allow a system to incentivize performance and increase the efficiency of employees. Trade unionists from the medical sector have also launched a calendar of protests. The claims concern the application of provisions of the salary law to all employees, the granting of vacation vouchers, and the modification of the calculation system for bonuses, night shifts, and food allowances.
Special pensions under scrutiny
Romanian deputies in the lower chamber of Parliament have on their desk the draft law that reforms the pension system, which mainly benefits magistrates and the employees of law enforcement agencies. Reform in this field is an objective written in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. USR, in the opposition, has been pleading continuously for the elimination of special pensions, and the project received amendments from the parties of the PSD - PNL - UDMR coalition before reaching the deputies. Among them is the correlation of the standard retirement age with the public pension system, in order to eliminate exceptions, so that, for diplomats and auxiliary staff in the courts, the standard retirement age increases to 65 years. The basis for calculating special pensions for alignment with the public system is also modified. If currently the wages over the last 12 months were considered, this period will increase in stages to 300 months. In addition, no employment pension will exceed the income obtained during the period of activity. Predictably, the Superior Council of the Magistracy criticized the special pensions project, and warned that a sudden increase in the retirement age for judges and prosecutors could cause more than 1,500 magistrates to leave the system.