The plight of workers in Romania

The following brief comment is a translation of a report by a comrade of Battaglia Comunista

In Bucharest on August 19 the Romanian government approved a new fiscal strategy for the years 2012-2014. For two years now the country has been a victim of severe austerity measures and the new tax plan is literally horrifying Romanians workers. After a new labor code came into force, an organic law that affects approximately 6.5 million employees, provides for the growth of fixed-term contracts, temporary contracts and the use of indiscriminate long periods of trial recruitment before taking on workers. On top of that comes the suspension of food stamps, cuts in holiday entitlements and bonuses for public sector employees. They are rewarded only with time off for work done outside their normal shift. In addition (as if that were not enough), until 2014 the government has decided to block recruitment in every sector by the replacing only one job in seven. In May, in a similar way, companies reduced the working week from 5 to 4 days resulting in lower wages for workers and other employees. The situation is aggravated further as a pensions’ increase that was due in a year’s time has been suspended. Education has been hit hard as it will have to wait two more years to see a 6% increase in finance for the school system.

The union, apart from organising small strikes which don’t face up to the seriousness of the situation, and accusing the government of being an "incompetent manager" (more or less as does Susanna Camusso in Italy (1) with the same results), does nothing but hold back workers so that the whole cost of the crisis is piled on their shoulders. At the same time they are loyally bowing their heads to the will of the Romanian bosses, who in turn are trying to encourage the emergence of new banks from abroad, especially from Austria, Germany, Italy and France. Romania’s cities are in fact dotted with them. Raiffeissen Bank and Erste Bank fromn Austria, Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo of Italy, Societe Generale of France, as well as Landersbank owned by Bayer in Germany, Belgium’s KBC and EFG Eurobank from Greece. Since 2005, these banks have been trying to spread their tentacles in south-east Europe, asking the ECB and the IMF to facilitate entry into the euro zone of countries like Serbia and the Ukraine. Their only fear is that if there was serious financial turmoil on many fronts in Eastern Europe, it would be the financial institutions who would pay the price. Instead capitalist logic dictates that, in the end, it is always the working class who pay for the risks taken by banks, industrialists and investors. EU money, the ECB and the IMF aid, which altogether amounted to 20 billion euros allocated in 2009, could never be enough because it is up against a Romanian economy with low growth of 1.7% - the GDP of the country is in free fall - but much more serious, is the rapidly rising number of the unemployed. Job insecurity is rampant and young and old workers are being increasingly exploited and blackmailed. The prospect of a proletariat which organises its own struggles is still a long way off, and Romanian workers have yet to find a proper response to the current serious situation. The hope is that class conflict will be radicalised in view of Romania’s entry in 2013, into the "Euro Zone" and to join the fight against the endless tribulations to which the proletarians of the "rich" Central Europe have also been subject for years.


(1) New head of the CGIL, the largest trade union federation, formerly dominated by the Italian Communist Party. Brendan Barber General Secretary of the TUC, Dave Prentis, head of Unison and Mark Serwotka of the PCS, use similar arguments in the UK.


An interesting post which highlights the common strategy being pursued by the bourgeoise globally. As the comrade points out the role of Romanian unions is the same as in the UK which is to continue to keep the struggles firmly within bourgeoise legality. It would have been useful if the article could have said something about the activity of both the social democratic parties and the radical fractions such as the Trotskyists. Also is there any organisation or individualls who adhere to the communist left?

I don't think there are any left-communists in Rumania. Maybe some Anarchist groups exist there. There might be a few small trotskyist groups.