The government and trade unions are to meet again on Friday to discuss a proposal by the Social Democratic cabinet to transfer payment of social security contributions from employers to employees. In the opinion of trade unions and some experts, this measure could cut employees’ net incomes by around 20%, which would fully or partly cancel the generous salary increases the government has already granted to certain categories of public sector employees. Trade unions are also unhappy with the public sector salary law and the social dialogue law.
Talks come after thousands of people took part in a protest on Wednesday in front of the government building staged by one of the biggest trade union confederations in Romania, Cartel Alfa. A protesters’ delegation, including employees from the police, healthcare, transport, education and public administration sectors, attended the talks with the government.
At the end of the meeting, Cartel Alfa’s leader Bogdan Hossu said the authorities would look into the possibility of not transferring the payment of social security contributions to employees. Prime Minister Mihai Tudose contradicted him, however, saying the government has not given up on the idea, but the measure would be compensated for by increasing gross salaries.
Mihai Tudose: “We are not considering and have not taken the decision to give up on the transfer, but we’ll find a solution to compensate for it or find a different solution. We will meet again on Friday and talk to all trade union confederations to find a solution that everyone agrees on.”
The president of Sanitas federation Leonard Barascu says people are still waiting for a response to their demands:
Leonard Barascu: “Things are not looking well in the country, and everyone is fed up with promises. They are convinced that going on strike or resigning en masse, by the thousands and tens of thousands, will persuade this government.”
Healthcare trade unions say protests will continue and threaten with a general strike. They also demand the elimination of the 30% cap on specific bonuses and the full application of salary increases for all healthcare and social assistance employees as of March 1, 2018. Teachers also complain of under-funding and low salaries in education. The list of complaints includes the cancellation of a 25% salary increase, the failure to pay outstanding salaries earned in court, the incorrect calculation of certain types of bonuses and the low pensions in the education sector.
(translated by: Cristina Mateescu)