Romanian finance unions gear up to restore sectoral bargaining
The Romanian Federation of Trade Unions in Insurance and Banking (FSAB), with support from UNI Global Union, is gearing up for a historic fight to regain the sectoral bargaining rights lost in 2011.
Earlier this week, FSAB and UNI leaders met in the mountain town of Predeal to prepare for this push, and the campaign will roll out in the coming months with workers in key banks like Raiffeisen, UniCredit, Piraeus, UPA, Société General, BRD, and Bancpost leading the charge.
A sectoral agreement would cover all the 100,000 workers employed by Romania’s finance companies and raise standards in the industry.
Suppressed workers’ voices lead to suppressed wages
The Romanian government changed sectoral bargaining laws in 2011 to restrict workers’ ability to have industry-wide representation after an intense lobbying campaign by multinational corporations.
As a result, pay and working conditions deteriorated. In the last five years, wages have fallen by roughly 20 percent, leading to high turnover in the financial industry. Many young workers are leaving the country to find better compensation elsewhere.
The 2011 law requires unions to represent more than 7 percent of the sector’s workforce, and for the industry employer association to agree to sectoral representation.
The member unions of the FSAB have met this threshold with 17 percent trade union density within the sector—including 50 percent density in the largest Romanian banks.
However, the industry association has to recognize the FSAB’s call for a sectoral agreement.
Making history by restoring rights
UNI Global Union is organizing trainings and helping the FSAB to coordinate actions to increase union power and membership. The campaign’s goal is to move the banks to agree to set standards for the entire industry, rather than individual enterprises.
UNI and FSAB will engage hundreds of union stewards throughout the country to build shop-floor support for sectoral bargaining. Organizers will also use innovative tactics to reach workers in non-union locations.
“Workers’ demands for sectoral bargaining will be so loud that the banks will not be able to ignore them,” said Angelo DiCristo, Head of UNI Finance. “Sectoral bargaining is under attack throughout Europe, and the finance workers of Romania are ready to make history by turning the tide.”