Romania’s IMF-Inspired Labour Laws Delivering Hardship for Workers

Major changes in Romania’s labour laws, introduced at the behest of the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank, have stripped away key protections for the country’s workforce and are denying large numbers of workers the right to union representation. More people are now forced to take a second job to make ends meet as labour market conditions become more precarious and incomes stagnate.

“The IMF prescription in Romania contradicts the positive signals about workers’ rights from its Washington Headquarters, and the government has ignored the advice of the ILO despite promising to respect international labour standards. A small number of employers and foreign investors are getting the benefits of the government’s lack of concern for the men and women who produce the goods and provide the services that keep the economy running,” said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.

The new laws, which the Romania’s trade union movement are trying to have amended, exclude workers in the “liberal professions” from the right to union membership, and introduced a series of legal and procedural obstacles to remove workers’ collective bargaining rights. Government claims that the laws have reduced unemployment are not supported by its own statistics.

“Powerful corporate and financial interests are succeeding in turning back two decades of democratic progress for Romania’s workers. These laws are a threat to the country’s economic and social stability, yet the government is putting ideology ahead of the interests of its own citizens,” said Burrow.