Controversy over the salary system in Romania
Two government projects due to be implemented next year have generated vehement reactions in Romania. The projects in question are the new salary scheme for public sector employees and the changes to the fiscal code. President Klaus Iohannis says the fiscal measures announced by the government such as transferring the payment of social security contributions to employees and a cut on income tax, will complicate problems instead of solving them. He has asked the ruling coalition to show responsibility and drop these fiscal policies, which, he says, will generate mistrust. The president says that while the country is seeing a period of economic growth, this growth is based on consumption, and has warned that public and private investments have dropped significantly compared to the same period last year. Trade unions have also criticised the government’s plans. The most vocal of critics, the leader of the Cartel Alfa trade union confederation, Bogdan Hossu, has warned that the plans to amend the fiscal code is flawed and may lead to lower incomes for 2 million employees. CNSRL Fratia has said it will start gathering signatures among its members for a general strike, while the National Union Bloc warns there is no certainty that net salaries will remain the same as long as there is no obligation for employers to increase gross salaries to make up for the amount of social security contributions to be paid by employees under the new government plan. Employer associations have shied away from entering the open conflict between the government and trade unions. However, business people have advised the government to think things deeply and not to take rush decisions, whose impact has not been sufficiently assessed.
The two-year commemoration of the Colectiv fire
On the 30th of October, Romania commemorated 2 years since a tragic fire broke out at the Colectiv nightclub in Bucharest in which 64 people were killed and more than 100 injured. The Colectiv association formed in the wake of the fire staged a commemorative Guitar March and concerts. Several hundred people took part in the march, walking in silence and wearing white T-shirts printed with the photographs of the victims and carrying candles and flowers. Radio Romania broadcast a programme entitled “64” inspired by the tragedy at Colectiv and a commemoration event was held in Cluj Napoca, in the west, to protest against the delays in the trial. A court case began again the club’s owners, the former sector mayor and employees of the Inspectorate for Emergency Situations for failing to take measures despite the fact that the club did not have a fire safety authorisation. Quite a lot of voices claim little has changed in the two years since the tragic event. In their defense, the authorities say the number of fire safety permit requests has gone up by nearly 85%. We recall that the Colectiv nightclub tragedy was followed by wide street protests against the Government and local authorities, which led to the demise of Victor Ponta’s Cabinet.
The crisis in Catalonia
Romania has reasserted its firm support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Spain, refusing to acknowledge the unilateral declaration of independence of Catalonia. According to a Foreign Ministry release, Spain is an important ally and strategic partner of Romania and has good bilateral, regional and international relations with this country. The legitimacy of any process or action pertaining to the interior state of affairs of a country consists in its full conformity with the country’s Constitution and rule of law, the document also reads. In this context, Romania has argued in favour of observing international law, which forbids any territorial modifications without the consent of the state in question. The Ministry for Romanians Worldwide has also announced it was monitoring the developments in Catalonia very closely. According to a communiqué the Ministry released at the time the referendum on the region’s independence was held, a task force monitoring the events has been in permanent contact with Romanian associations, parishes and diplomatic missions, in order to assess the real-time situation of the over 130,000 Romanians who live in Catalonia right now.
FCSB advances to the Europa League round of 32
Romania’s vice champions FCSB have qualified to the round of last 32 in Europa League after drawing 1-all at home against Hapoel Beer Sheva of Israel in the fourth round of Group G. FCSB has 10 points and tops the league tables, followed by Viktoria Plezen of the Czech Republic with 6 points. The Czech team defeated Lugano of Switzerland 4-1 in Thursday’s other group fixture. Hapoel and Lugano are 3rd and 4th respectively, both with 3 points. Romania will next play Viktoria Plezen away from home and needs a win to preserve the top spot in the group standings.