Approximately 22,000 employees of the Ministry of Public Finance’s institutional system stopped working on Monday morning to participate in a spontaneous protest. They are unhappy with the new public administration wage bill that might lead to salary cuts if it enters into force.
Employees from around the country are participating in the protest, including those in Bucharest, according to a statement from the National Federation of Unions in Finance.
“The protests generated by wage cuts have been triggered by employees and can last for an indefinite period, which can lead to blocking the tax collection activity, and the public relations activities,” reads the statement.
According to the National Federation of Unions in Finance, the employees of the Finance Ministry and its subordinated units don’t benefit from bonuses or other additional income, and their positions don’t allow them to have any other income source.
“People are unhappy with the draft law on salaries and triggered a spontaneous protest across the country. They are people with economic training and made some calculations and found that their income would be diminishing. On average, the salaries would drop by 10-30%. Those who have senior management positions and have higher salaries will see higher decreases,” said Vasile Marica, the leader of SED LEX National Association of Budgetary Unions, reports local Mediafax.
In Bucharest, some 650 employees of the Bucharest Regional Public Finance Directorate launched a spontaneous protest at 08:30, and almost two hours later started marching to the Finance Ministry’s headquarters. The civil servants in public authorities – the local taxes directorates of Bucharest’s 2,3, 4 and 6 districts also announced their solidarity with the Finance Ministry’s employees.
Moreover, the Romanian customs employees also announced that they have joined forces with their colleagues from the regional public finance directorates and started protesting in a different way on Monday morning, namely they began checking all the vehicles crossing the borders, which led to an even worse traffic at the borders. Moreover, this kind of protest could even block the Romanian borders.
“The action is due to wage cuts as of January 1, 2018, which is unacceptable for the employees of the customs system,” reads the statement.
The new public sector wage law reached the Parliament in late-April, after some delays. Labor minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu said that she would want the new law to be adopted and start producing effects as of July 1 this year.
Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry is also analyzing significant changes in the tax system. The current 16% flat tax on personal income may be replaced with a differentiated tax on global household revenues starting next year, according to an official draft. The ministry also wants to pay some 35,000 fiscal consultants to do the taxes for Romanian households. These consultants would be paid RON 10,000 per month. The project has stirred many negative comments.
The Finance Ministry’s employees are also unhappy with these potential changes. “Rather than paying 35,000 newly employed fiscal consultants RON 10,000 per month, double what the Finance Ministry’s employees make, Romania’s Government should better offer decent pay to the 25,000 employees responsible with collecting the state’s revenues, which would be a more realistic investment,” the Unions in Finance said.
The unions also pointed out that should this strike continue, it would endanger the Government’s implementation of the new public wage law, meaning the drop in collected budget revenues would make it impossible for the Government to grant the wage increases promised to other categories of public employees.
Irina Popescu, [email protected]