Romania: Education unions mobilise for decent living and working conditions

published 19 January 2022 updated 21 January 2022

The Fédération des Syndicats Libres de l'Enseignement (FSLE) and the Fédération des syndicats de l’éducation Spiru Haret, both Romanian affiliates of Education International, organised a warning strike on 19 January. They are demanding decent wages and working conditions for education workers.

Trade union demands

The FSLE and the Spiru Haret Federation are particularly critical of the following:

  1. Continued underfunding of the national pre-university education system. For 2022, a public allocation of 2.28% of GDP for education is foreseen, while the National Education Act foresees an allocation of 6% of GDP.
  2. Non-compliance with the law on education workers’ pay. The salary increases provided for by the law have been postponed twice for two years. The trade 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%.
  3. The average salary in education is 30% lower than in public administration.
  4. According to Law 109/2020, each teacher was supposed to receive a laptop with an Internet connection to deliver online courses. Although the Ministry of Education partially distributed these electronic vouchers to students, teachers received nothing.
  5. Non-payment of overtime beyond the regular daily working hours.
  6. The number of auxiliary and non-teaching staff is insufficient and during the pandemic supply posts were scarce.

The list of demands is much longer, said Adrian Voica, vice-president of the FSLE and member of the Bureau of the Comité syndical francophone de l'éducation et de la formation (CSFEF) for Eastern Europe.

He also explained that if, after this action, negotiations between the government and the unions fail, there will be a general strike for an indefinite period.

The motto of the trade unionists is “Unity is strength”, he added.

Support from the international education union community

The CSFEF, the organisation that brings together the French-speaking affiliates of Education International, was quick to lend its support to the trade union organisations 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 keeping 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 education.”