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Pensioner

In the last days, protests were held in various cities of Romania against the health bill that has been submitted by the government. Extensive privatization of the entire health sector will be enforced with this new law. By Sunday, January 15th, 2012, the social protests climaxed. In Bucharest it came up to street clashes that lasted for several hours [see video]. Police and gendarmerie inflicted severe injuries to demonstrators.

~ Privatization of the entire health care system – Health only for the rich

By the end of December 2011, the new health bill was submitted by State’s president Traian Băsescu of the right liberal-democratic party (PDL). The president expounded that he seeks the whole privatization of this elementary field of society in order to revive the ‘competition between the hospitals’. Simultaneously, the services of the health insurance were cut severely. Additional payments or general contributions of medical attendance are obligatory. The ambulance service (SMURD) is about to be privatized as well. That means in concrete: no money – no salvation. This purpose made sub-secretary Raed Arafat, director of the emergency service, to declare in public that this bill shatters the health system and that he would not agree upon this project. The reaction of president Traian Băsescu was authoritarian as is usual. He denounced Arafat as ‘the greatest enemy of the private health system’ and declared last Thursday (January 12th, 2012): ‘If he doesn’t agree with the law, he goes.’ To give more weight to his threat, Băsescu added towards a journalist: ‘It was a bigger issue when Stefan Lazaroiu (former labour minister) resigned from his position.’ Raed Arafat resigned finally and left his post on last week’s Friday. [For two and a half years, R.Arafat was under-secretary of State for Public Health, but he was compelled to resign on January 10th, after expressing his criticism during the current health care and welfare reform debate.]

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The Romanian President Traian Basescu (PDL).

The following Interview was first published on the 29th May 2010 in a German Version on Syndikalismus.tk

The following Interview about the announced social cuts of the Romanian Government was done with the Comrade Diogenes (30) from Bucharest. He is Anarcho-Syndicalist and a socialworker under contract by the town of Bucharest. From the announced payment-cuts and layoffs he is directly affected.

Syndikalismus.tk: On 19th of may went more then 50.000 workers, teachers and pensioners in Bucharest on the streets. In the shouted slogans they demand the withdrawal of the government. Do you think the demonstration was an success and that the government will take back their decisions of the social- and money cuts? What do you think about the demonstration from 19th of may?

Diogenes: The protests that took place on May 19th were initiated by the trade unions that are operating in Romania. These unions have nothing to do with defending worker’s rights – in my opinion, and they are very close to the definition of yellow unions. Many of these union’s leaders are millionaires and these unions are collecting huge amounts of money (1% from the gross income of an employee); and because the law obliges the employer to sign a collective labour agreement (which must be negotiated with the unions), even if you refuse to contribute in the account of such a union, the Romanian state, will automatically stops 0,6% from your gross salary under the pretext that this money will form a special fund for collective bargaining. There are huge amount of money – millions of Euros per month. That’s pure mathematics, no speculation at all. Administrating all that amount of money – why they need also to rob those people that refuse to join the union? I guess that if you’ll rent the Hermitage Palace for the collective bargaining it would be a cheaper business.

Within these unions there is no transparency at all. The union leaders hold their positions for life, I never heard about sessions within the union and also no elections. The conclusion that necessarily resulting is that these unions are a dubious business and have nothing to do with defending worker’s rights.

What do I think about the protest that took place on May 19th? Sorry to say this, but I think a mob of 50.000 people was taken there without any result and I think also that the opposition sees the current situation as an opportunity to replace the current poor governance with another one – equally poor, but a governance of their own. I am convinced by the fact that all this criticism that is put on the government by the unions, it represents, nothing more but an asset for the opposition. Why would a union leader compromise his position? They will stay for the interest of the opposition because the government is compromised anyway. Until an authentic spirit of rebellion won’t come out to the surface, nothing will be changed.

I don’t know if the government will cancel the wage cut decision but I know that this crisis will be set on the shoulders of the poor however – as it is set right now within this government’s project of wage cuts or within any other alternative project of the government or of the opposition in the parliament. This is the state policy guideline. This is its morality.

Syndikalismus.tk: In the foreign countries, also in Germany, got the demonstration very well realized. Especially in the left radical and the official FAU- report is the anticipation there, that in Romania happen now that, what is in Greece the fact: General strikes and mass protest. Is this expectation realistic?

Diogenes: Such a great expectation will lead to great disappointment if things will follow another path. How should be that possible knowing the activity of the unions that are activating in Romania? General strike and massive protests must start at the initiative of the workers without the interference of these so cold unions – which I have no doubt – will make everything possible to misappropriate the worker’s revolt towards something unproductive and in favour of a government or another.

However – the possibility for massive protest to take place it is born right now, caused by the increasing poverty within the working class: growing unemployment, the inability of borrowers to pay their rates for their ugly, small and very expensive houses, etc. The main conditions for these protests to take place are: 1. to take place spontaneously and 2. To be organised outside these parasitical organisations that are operating under the mask of syndicalism.

The conditions that generate massive protests in Greece are much softer than the harsh conditions that Romanian’s workers have to deal with. We’ll see if the solidarity spirit will be as strong as the solidarity among the Greeks… but we must notice that Greeks have a long tradition in operating with grass roots unions and also they are familiarized with radical ideas, while Romanians are not. However – we must create precedents for these kind of situations and anarchist agitation would be very useful in these times.

Syndikalismus.tk: In the past got generalstrikes several times by the specific branch unions announced. De facto doesn’t followed so many union-members this calls or the mass of the strikers stood at home and brought the protest not on the street and with that not to the public. Are the unions at all able to create real pressure? And in which branches do you see the must success of union-actions?

Diogenes: A large part of the employees that was called to participate remained not at home but at their work program under the pressure of the employers. I said before – the yellow unions are monopolist and all this situation smells as a fraud. Who announced the employees that it will be a large protest? Not the union leaders. The employers did that and the employers also decided who should go to the protest and who should stay at work. There is no communication at all between these leaders of the unions and the members of the unions. Bosses and leaders of the unions have no will and no interest to make real pressure.

However – I was impressed, as you were impressed, by the actions took by pensioners. I know several pensioners associations are activating in Romania but I can’t tell who organised them so well. Driven by despair, they shown solidarity as no one expected. They also announced that Monday, on May 31st they will protest again tied with chains to show their slave condition. Their social category is one of the most disadvantaged and they fight for survival. I don’t exaggerate telling you that 2010 and 2011 would be the years with the most increased number of mortality among the pensioners. With their subsistence pensions they could not afford more than food in the past. With this 15% cut from pensions, with no medical assistance (the government already closed many medical units) and no subventions for heating and other necessities, these years that are coming will be the worst years in the last 60 years for them. This cut is nothing more than genocide.

Syndikalismus.tk: Are colleges of your branch also involved in the protests? Is there a discussion under your colleges about the cuts and for common actions against?

Diogenes: I am not a member of the union and I don’t want to be. In case of reorganisation, because I am not a member of the union I will be the first to become unemployment because the employer will make a list with all those people that will have to go and that list will be negotiated with the union leaders. This is more than sure. Discussions with my colleges are related with these reorganisations and many of them decided to join the union and participate in protests.

Also the discussions about these cuts incite to revolt but a revolt that is repressed inside before it comes out. Propaganda by word is not enough to make this revolt explode just like that. The people must become conscious by their huge power that is at their hand and it is called: solidarity.

Syndikalismus.tk: What is your estimation about the mood under the people? Especially in the working class? Are Topics like class struggle and the fight for an anti-capitalist society on the agenda?

Diogenes: The outraged situations that determine the mood of the people it can not be something else but rage and that is predictable. The unions know that, the government knows that and the opposition take advantage of that. It’s nothing new under the sun. How much is orchestrated in this protest manifestations and how much is authentic – that should be the question. In this situation when people fight for survival the protests should reach and follow the concept of illegality. Having these parasite unions on our back imagine that anti capitalism and class struggle are not common topics on people agenda and revendications are in general limited to alternative solutions, like progressive taxation instead of salary and pension cuts.

The minimum salary here is 705 lei per month. That means – at the National Bank currency – 160 Euros. On the other hand, the prices here are sometime bigger than prices in Germany. After 20 years of capitalism, when you have to pay 65.000 Euros for a one bedroom flat although most of the workers gain around 200, 300 Euros per month – that simple fact should make people realise that capitalism simply doesn’t work.

Syndikalismus.tk: Was there a notable Participation of anarcho-syndicalists or anarchists in the protests?

Diogenes: Not really. I am not organised and there are not grass roots unions here. The anarchist movement in Romania is at its beginnings and it is more active among artistic manifestations and in underground culture.

Syndikalismus.tk: What would be the best, to stop the attacks of the governement?

Diogenes: General strike to paralyse the economy and I would add, as a hobby – sabotage over the banks that robber the whole existence of the people. People have nothing to loose. Anarcho-syndicalism for the future!

Syndikalismus.tk: Thanks a lot for this interview!

First pubslihed here: http://syndikalismus.wordpress.com/2010/05/29/„die-leute-haben-nichts-zu-verlieren-–-interview-mit-einem-rumanischen-anarchosyndikalisten-zu-den-protesten-gegen-die-sparmasnahmen-der-regierung/

Am 12. Mai fanden in verschiedenen Städten Rumäniens spontane Protestkundgebungen gegen die vom 1. Juni an wirksamen weitgehenden Renten- und Lohnkürzungen statt. (Syndikalismus.tk berichtete).

In Bukarest, Iasi und Galati durchbrachen RenterInnen dabei Polizei – und Jandarmeri-Absperrungen. Zu den Protesten hatte die Gewerkschaft der Rentner (Federaţiei Naţionale a Sindicatelor Pensionarilor) aufgerufen. Deren Präsident Preda Nedelcu erklärte während des Protests vor dem Regierungspalast Cotroceni in Bukarest, das die Regierung den Rentnern doch gleich Rattengift geben könnte, anstatt sie durch die Kürzungen (die Rentenbezüge werden um 15% gekürzt) langsam verrecken zu lassen. Nicht nur die Geldbezüge werden gekürzt, auch die bislang kostenfreie medizinische Versorgung von Diabetikern an einem bestimmten Tag des Monats wird abgeschafft und jeder Arztbesuch wird kostenpflichtig. Bei den Protesten in Bukarest durchbrachen mehr als 200 RenterInnen die Polizeiabsperrungen und versuchten den Präsidentenpalast zu stürmen. In Sprechchören riefen sie, der Staatspräsident Basescu solle abdanken („Demisia“) und „Nieder mit der Regierung“. Nach Angaben der Polizei wurde ein Rentner festgenommen, der mit einem gefüllten Benzinkanister an der Stürmung des Palastes beteiligt gewesen sein soll. Nachdem mindestens zwei RenterInnen bei den Protesten in Bukarest das Bewußstein verloren, schallten Polizei und Jandarmeri die Sprechchöre „Mörder“ entgegen.

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Der Arbeitsminister Mihai Şeitan.

Der rumänische Staatspräsident Traian Basescu verkündete gestern, das zum 1. Juni 2010 alle Gehälter der „Budgetari“, der GehaltsbezieherInnen im öffentlichen Dienst, um 25% gekürzt werden. Auch den Erwerbslosen und RentnerInnen geht es an den Kragen. Ihre Pensionen werden um 15% gekürzt. Besonders interessant ist das Vorgehen der Regierung, die sich nicht mal mehr bemüht den Anschein eines demokratischen Handelns aufrecht zu erhalten. So erklärte der Arbeitsminister Mihai Şeitan, das er über die Kürzungen vorab nicht informiert wurde. Er habe erst durch die Ankündigung des Präsidenten davon erfahren. Die rumänische Verfassung sieht die Einbeziehung der Minister in die Entscheidungen, die deren Bereich betreffen, vor. Diese Einbeziehung wurde umgegangen und die Entscheidung wurde in faktisch diktatorischem Stil getroffen um den Forderungen der Weltbank nach weiteren Einsparungen von Haushaltsgeldern Rechnung zu tragen. Mit Sicherheit wäre jedoch das Ergebnis der Kürzungen auch bei der Einbeziehung des Arbeitsministers nicht anders ausgefallen. Alle Schweinereien und Kürzungen wurden von diesem, wie von allen anderen Ministern mitgetragen. Begründet werden die Kürzungen seit Jahren mit der „Krise“. Und dies, obwohl nach Angaben der Europäischen Union bereits 2,5 Billionen Euro nach Rumänien geflossen sein sollen. (1)

Ernsthafte Proteste sind unwahrscheinlich

Das sich die rumänische Regierung ein solch diktatorisches Vorgehen erlaubt, könnte auch darin begründet liegen, das ernsthafte Proteste gegen ihre Politik sehr unwahrscheinlich sind. Im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes sind nahezu alle Gewerkschaften korrupt, ihre FührerInnen gekauft und bestochen. Groß angekündigte Streiks werden immer wieder auf weiter entfernte Termine verlegt und hinausgeschoben. Kommt es dennoch vereinzelt zu Streiks, so ist die Basis äußert gering. Bei der, von einer der zwei großen Lehrergewerkschaften breit angekündigten Streikaktion im Bezirk Galaţi am 22. April, um gegen das unbezahlte durchführen von Prüfungen und Abiturexamen durch LehrerInnen zu protestieren, beteiligte sich nur in der Stadt Galaţi eine Lehrerin. Ihr wurde umgehend gekündigt. Solidarität erfährt sie nicht.

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