Education unions mobilize for decent living and working conditions
The Federation of Free Education Unions (FSLE) and the Federation of Education Unions Spiru Haret, both Romanian affiliates of Education International, organized a warning strike on 19 January. They demand decent wages and working conditions for education workers.
The FSLE and the Spiru Haret Federation criticize in particular:
- Continued underfunding of the national pre-university education system. For 2022, a public allocation of 2.28% of GDP to education is planned, while the national education law foresees an allocation of 6% of GDP.
- Failure to comply with the Education Workers Remuneration Act. Wage increases provided for by law have been postponed twice for two years. The union federations argue that the legal increase is 16%, but the government has decided to reduce this amount to 4%. They also point out that inflation for 2021 was above 8%.
- The average salary in education is 30% lower than in public administration.
- According to Law 109/2020, each teacher was supposed to receive a laptop with an internet connection to deliver online lessons. Although the Ministry of Education partially distributed these e-vouchers to students, teachers received nothing.
- Non-payment of overtime beyond normal daily working hours.
- The number of auxiliary and non-teaching staff is insufficient and during the pandemic supply stations were rare.
The list of demands is much longer, said Adrian Voica, vice-president of the FSLE and member of the Bureau of the Francophone union committee for education and training (CSFEF) for Eastern Europe.
He also explained that if, after this action, the negotiations between the government and the unions fail, there will be a general strike for an indefinite period.
The motto of trade unionists is “Unity is strength”, he added.
Support from the international education trade union community
The CSFEF, the organization that brings together the French-speaking affiliates of Education International, has been quick to support trade union organizations in Romania.
For Jean-Hervé Cohen, president of the CSFEF, “the social movement in Romania is not an isolated case. In many countries, the pandemic is a pretext for not honoring its commitments to the teaching profession, which has given so much. The CSFEF expresses its solidarity with the education federations FLSE and Spiru Haret, and urges the Romanian government to respond to this warning strike, in order to avoid plunging the country into a long-lasting conflict that would harm the education.