Romania launches Wage Union campaign

Romania has begun collecting statements of support for the European Citizens’ Initiative for a Wage Union, Márton Gyöngyösi and Dragos Tirnoveanu, the Hungarian and Romanian members of the Citizens’ Committee announced in their press conference in Cluj-Napoca / Kolozsvár, Romania.

As Mr. Gyöngyösi informed the media, their joint Romanian campaign trail involved five stations where they were going to promote the initiative and meet trade union representatives. Mr Gyöngyösi said that Hungary’s and Romania’s citizens had been waiting for their wages and living standards to catch up with Western Europe but their governments had done very little to achieve these goals. 

“We don’t want to transfer rights and competencies to Brussels. We don’t claim that wage inequalities can be eliminated overnight. What we do claim is that the principle of equal pay for equal work must be identified in the EU Treaties as the Union’s fundamental goal,” the MP stated.

As another goal of the initiative, the politician said Eastern Central European citizens should not be forced to leave their homeland to get decent wages. In his view, it is time for Hungarians and Romanians to join their forces so that their youth could make ends meet in their own homelands.

Explaining the potential benefits of the initiative, Dragos Tirnoveanu asserted that it aimed to eliminate the harmful legacy of post-Communist planned economies so that the economic and social problems of these countries could be remedied. As an example of the latter, he mentioned the dire social ramifications caused by the massive emigration wave of competent labour force from eastern Europe. He added that the organizers were primarily looking for popular support in the former Eastern Bloc countries. In response to a question from MTI Hungarian News Agency, he said the first round of the campaign involved collecting the 24 thousand statements of support required from Romania. 

Mr Gyöngyösi explained that citizens and organizations of western European welfare states were also interested in the project because the cheap eastern European labour force put a downward pressure on western wages, which could lead to discontent there. 

Answering another question from MTI, Mr Gyöngyösi said what they expected from the EU was not to try regulating wages but to rethink the existing cohesion policies. “It is time to ask if the cohesion funds really improved the competitiveness of eastern member states. We should find out if the cohesion funds could be more useful in research & development and education,” the politician suggested. He added that national states should abandon their current economic policies based on cheap labour, and eliminate corruption which devoured a significant share of the cohesion funds and undermined their economies.