Workers Protest

Interview with a worker about working conditions, humiliations and abuses of bosses at eMAG, Romania. This interview was taken by Vladimir Borţun in January 2012 and it was published on Critic Atac (a leftist internet platform).

Vladimir Borţun: Where are you working?

Employee (AE): At ‘Dante Internaţional’ company, known as ‘eMAG’ as well.

VB: Since when?

AE: Since 2009.

VB: What are you doing there?

AE: I am working at one of their warehouses. I work on PC and operate with bills. I’m doing also other things: I print bills, I sort them and I give them to my colleagues to find the merchandise; I guide them to find the merchandise.

VB: I guess you have a work contract?

AE: Yes, of course.

VB: What is written in your contract about work time? How many days per week and how many hours per day?

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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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Symbolic violence, protester’s violence, monopol on violence

There are many forms of violence that Romanians are confronting every day: government violence, capitalism violence, the symbolic violence that is used through the state or private institutions in order to creat the proper medium for the absurdities and crime of both – the state and the capital. It is imposible to live with the minimum wage of 570 lei per month when only the heat over the winter may rise to 300 lei per month, when the price for a small flat rise to 400.000 lei and the rent can reach 1.000 lei.  I should also mention the arrogance of Traian Basescu that is naming the working class – ‘lazy’; the arrogance of senator Iulian Urban that named the protestors – ‘worms’ and the arrogance that can be seen daily on the faces of the politicians and on the faces of those almighty businessman they protect, and that can get away with any crime they make. They have the monopol over violence, including physical violence when people’s voice rise.

Those that thrown bricks and Molotov cocktails represent a tiny part of the violence that people confront daily and their violence is a direct result of all the frustration accumulated in time, in a society ruined and leaded to poverty by the government and the cupidity of the capitalist class.

Mass media reports

There are a few clichés that are to be found in mass media reports:
– ‘Those that thrown bricks are football hooligans’. No one reported that among this ‘hooligans’ can be found middle class youth with university studies. The media reports tend only to discredit them and not to find and analyse the causes of their anger and although most of the protesters are peacefull this attitude will legitimate the government to repress them and to abuse them with more violence;
– ‘The number of gendarmes on the street must grow’. The number of gendarmes is already big and they are making victims including among elderly people;
– Some TV stations report a much smaller number of protesters;
– The press don’t reveal to the large public that protesters shout among others – ‘The only solution – another revolution!’.

Government reaction

– The government called the gendarmes from all over the country and placed them in the cities where protests are taking place;
– The government stoped a train, when people from another city – Craiova, wanted to come in Bucharest to support the protests;
– Under the reason that ‘they are making noise’, the police took in custody – only last night – over 70 persons and they arrested around 100 persons although there was no violent acts from the protesters.

What the government should know

These protests are against the system. What the government should know – is that the repression of these protests can be the prelude for the revolution.

In den letzten Tagen kam es in verschiedenen Städten Rumäniens zu Protesten gegen das von der Regierung eingebrachte Gesundheitsgesetz. Mit diesem Gesetz soll die umfassende Privatisierung des gesamten Gesundheitsbereichs durchgesetzt werden. Am Sonntag  (15. Januar 2012) erreichten die sozialen Proteste ihren Höhepunkt. In Bukarest kam es zu mehrstündigen Straßenkämpfen. Polizei und Jandarmerie fügten Demonstranten schwerste Verletzungen zu.

Privatisierung des gesamten Gesundheitssystems – Gesundheit nur für Reiche

Ende Dezember 2011 wurde das neue Gesetz von Staatspräsident Traian Basescu von der rechten Liberal-Demokratischen Partei (PDL) auf den Weg gebracht. Der Präsident erklärte, das er eine vollständige Privatisierung dieses elementaren Bereichs der Gesellschaft wünsche, um den “Wettbewerb zwischen den Krankenhäusern” zu beleben. Gleichzeitig wurden die Leistungen der in den Krankenkassen Versicherten massiv beschnitten. Zuzahlungen bzw. Generelle Bezahlungen von Arztbehandlungen sind obligatorisch. Auch der Rettungsdienst (SMURD) für Notfälle soll Privatisiert werden. D.h. Konkret: Ohne Geld – keine Rettung. Diese Absicht veranlasste den Unterstaatssekretär Raed Arafat, Direktor des Rettungsdienstes, öffentlich zu erklären, das dieses Gesetz das Gesundheitssystem zerschlagen werde, und er diesem deshalb nicht zustimmen werde. Die Reaktion von Präsident Traian Basescu viel gewohnt autoritär aus. Er erklärte Arafat zum “größten Feind des privaten Gesundheitssystems” und erklärte am letzten Donnerstag (12. Januar 2012): “Wenn er dem Gesetz nicht zustimmt, dann geht er”. Um seiner Drohung mehr Gewicht zu verleihen schob Basescu gegenüber einem Journalisten noch hinterher: “Überlag doch wie das ging, als Stefan Lazaroiu (damaliger Arbeitsminister) seinen Ministerposten aufgab.” Raed Arafat trat dann am Freitag letzter Woche von seinem Posten zurück.

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The Anarcho-Syndicalist Initiative in Romania (I.A.S.R) informed today about the victory of the striking workers of GDS MS in Arad. The statement says:

The Nemira Union announced the end of the collective labour conflict at GDS MS Arad due to the fact that the managers from GDS MS have accepted the union’s demands for a wage rise.

The strikers have been confronted during their strike action with a malicious attitude from mass-media and pressure from the bosses. IASR supported the workers from the beginning of the conflict, posting articles about the strike and calling for international support for the strikers. IASR was in contact with the workers from the beginning of the hostilities considering that only solidarity can bring a victory for the working class.

Although the demands of the strikers were accepted by the bosses we need to have in mind that in Romania:
– Labour legislation is in favor of the capitalist class;
– Mass-media is hostile to the working class interests promoting the idea that workers should be happy if they have a job however bad is that job;
– Workers solidarity is our only defense against government and the capitalist class.
IASR will monitor the situation of the workers from GDS MS Arad in the future and support their struggle against those that rob the fruit of their labour, enslaving them while their criminal allies – the politicians – are making the games of the privileged class.

This work struggle is a proof that workers can win with a strike. If they had not done anything, then nothing would have changed.

I.A.S.R., 07.10.2011

Original-Statement in Romanian

Die Anarcho-Syndikalistische Initiative Rumäniens (I.A.S.R.) informiert heute in einer Erklärung über den Sieg der streikenden ArbeiterInnen bei GDS MS in Arad. In der Erklärung heißt es:

Die Gewerkschaft „Nemira“ informierte über das Ende des kollektiven Arbeitskonflikts bei GDS MS Arad aufgrund der Tatsache, das die Manager von GDS MS die Forderung der Gewerkschaft nach einer Lohnerhöhung akzeptieren.

Die Streikenden waren während ihres Streiks mit üblen Verleumdungen der Massen-Medien und dem Druck der Bosse konfrontiert gewesen. Die I.A.S.R. unterstützte die ArbeiterInnen von Anbeginn des Konfliktes an, informierte in Artikeln über den Streik und rief zu internationaler Unterstützung für die Streikenden auf. Von Beginn der Kampfhandlungen an stand die I.A.S.R. in Kontakt mit den ArbeiterInnen, wissend um den Fakt, das nur Solidarität einen Sieg für die Arbeiterklasse erbringen kann.

Auch wenn die Forderungen der Streikenden von den Bossen akzeptiert wurden, müssen wir dennoch bedenken das in Rumänien:

– die Arbeitsgesetzgebung zum Vorteil der Kapitalisten ausgerichtet ist;

– die Massenmedien den Interessen der Arbeiterklasse feindlich gesinnt sind und Ideen propagieren, nach denen ArbeiterInnen glücklich sein sollen wenn sie einen Arbeitsplatz haben, unabhängig davon wie schlecht dieser auch immer ist;

– ArbeiterInnen-Solidarität unsere einige Verteidigung gegen Regierung und Kapitalisten ist.

Die I.A.S.R. wird die Situation der Arbeiter bei GDS MS Arad in Zukunft beobachten und ihren Kampf gegen diejenigen unterstützen, die ihnen die Früchte ihrer Arbeit rauben, die sie versklaven während ihre kriminellen Verbündeten – die Politiker – das Spiel der privilegierten Klasse spielen.

Dieser Arbeitskampf ist ein Beweis dafür, das Arbeiter einen Streik gewinnen können. Hätten sie nichts getan, dann hätte sich nichts verändert.

I.A.S.R., 07.10.2011

Original-Nachricht in Rumänisch

Übersetzung: Anarcho-Syndikalistischer Infodienst Rumänien, 07.10.2011

Since October 30, workers of the machine factory GDS Manufacturing Services in the Rumanian city of Arad went on an indefinite strike. This strike, which has been decided by the majority of workers, has been started after fruitless negotiations between the general management and the company union Nemira (Sindicatul Nemira).  Wage workers at the factory receive a monthly salary of 540 Leu, which is around 125 Euro. How shall workers feed their children with that? Midafax cited union secretary Samir Nedelea saying: “And now winter is coming and people need to heat their homes”. The strikers just demand a  decent additional salary of about 100 Leu (23€) pre-tax and vouchers, which have already been promised (Coupons instead of money which can be used in participating shops). They also demand a collective labour agreement for wage and work time regulation. A newly inaugurated labour law weakens current regulations by allowing individual labour contracts so that workers who do exactly the same job receive different payment depending on their negotiating skills when they were employed. In March, the general management announced the signing of a collective labour agreement. But the daily newspaper Adevarul wrote that nothing has happened so far.

While most newspapers just offer short and fragmented information, the famous newspaper Romania Libera initiated a smear campaign against the strikers. In particular, they accuse the union’s secretary of dishonest motives and personal revenge as “he has worked many years for the company and was then fired”. But the bourgeoisie press ignores the fact that he was fired during the negotiations to bring them to an end. Solidarity is very important in this situation. It hardly happens that workers in Romania strike at all; they are intimidated, they are faced with an apathetic society and they are met with refusal from media and politicians. GDS is a global player with its headquarters in Vicenza (Italy). They have branches in many cities, e.g. Düsseldorf and Madrid. Public pressure will support the workers’ demands.

Show your solidarity with the strikers and use the following Email address and contact form to show your solidarity and to put pressure on the general management, so they will accept the workers’ demands as soon as possible.

GDS MS Arad, Romania
Eveljn Vendramini

Headquarter GDS GROUP
Giovanni Cariolato
Fax: +39 0445 428992

Contact Form:

Here is a general map of GDS dependencies:

Anarcho-Syndicalistic Information Service Romania, 03.10.2011

translated into English by bubblebobble