Romanian labor ministry resigns over public sector salaries law proposal

Romanian labor ministry, Claudia-Ana Costea, resigned on April 14, 2016, after a scandal concerning the project the law regarding the salaries of the employees in the public sector. On April 18, 2016, Dragos Nicolae Pislaru was appointed as the new Ministry of Labor in the Ciolos Government. Pislaru was previously counsellor of the Prime Minister. He is an economist, graduate from of the Economic Studies in Bucharest where he was also a lecturer, and of the School of Economics and Political Science in London. He was an associate researcher at Romanian Center for economic Policies, and executive director within the Group of Applied Economy.

Finalizing a unitary salary law was one of the objectives assumed by the Ministry of Labor at the beginning of the mandate. The finalizing term was supposed to be October 2016. After being subject to several changes of deadlines, and at least ten different forms where the Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy, Commerce and Relations with the Business Sector, Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration, Ministry of Justice, and syndicates have participated, the final draft of the law, that was supposed to be implemented in 4 years, kept the principle that no salary needs to drop, and the report between the minimum and the maximum wages have to be 1/15. 

However, after the entire struggle, there were no sufficient funds to eliminate simultaneously the disfunctionalities between the institutions, and also within them. So instead, they tried to elaborate a new draft within the new budget imposed by the Ministry of Finance, an emergency ordinance that was supposed to facilitate the applicability of an ulterior salary law. But this cut into costs would mean only a partial elimination of the disfunctionalities- just within the institutions, and not also between them. Basically, the project meant a drop in the dignitaries’ salaries, and a growth of small salaries, also discrepancies between employees with the same tasks but with different incomes, and it would have come into force on the 1st of August. The budgetary effort would have been 300 million LEI annually, instead of a multi-billion budget annually for a unitary salary law. 

“Thus, considering that the disadvantages of applying this ordinance are much higher than the advantages, the Minister of Labor decided to take responsibility in front of the social partners for giving the project up”, explain the representatives of the Ministry of Labor. 

An error in communication between the institutions made Ana Costea threaten with her resignation in case the ordinance is subject to the Government meeting. Truth is, there was no intention from the Government to tackle the ordinance yet. Nevertheless, the Minister resigned Thursday, and the Government will try a new approach on the law. 

by Mihaela Constantin

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