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2 April 2015

Romania: unions fear that labour inspectors might fall under political control

In December 2014 the Romanian government adopted an Emergency Ordinance aimed at merging the Labour Inspectorate with the National Agency for Payments and Social Inspection. Unions fear that the new agency might be subject to political control in violation of the ILO Labour Inspection convention which stipulates that "the inspection staff shall be composed of public officials whose status and conditions of service are such that they are assured of stability of employment and are independent of changes of government and of improper external influences".

The unions also fear that the reform could result in hindering the work currently carried on by Labour Inspectors, by burdening them with additional tasks related to social assistance and non-specific control activities.

In January, five trade union confederations, considering the governmental ordinance to be unconstitutional, requested Victor Ciorbea, the Romanian ombudsman in charge of investigating and addressing complaints made by citizens against government institutions, to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court.

"Once covered by a governmental act, the organization and operation of the new agency will be changed by political or local interests (…) Thus local barons will decide who, when and how somebody will or will not be bothered by the labour inspectors, giving free rein to the mafia in the economic sector", stated the trade unions in a press release. The unions believe that the reform will serve to encourage tax fraud on the labour market.

As a result of the trade union mobilisation, Romanian Labour minister Rovana Plumb undertook to regulate the Labour Inspectorate through a new specific law that would respect international agreement assumed by the Romanian government, including the ILO convention 81/1947.

The Romanian Labour Inspection system has been hard hit by the austerity measures implemented by the national government in the face of the worldwide economic crisis.

Prior to the crisis, the Labour Inspectorate had 4 205 posts. By the end of 2010, this figure had fallen to 3 236.

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