The 2nd Edition of the Joint Social Conference in Romania was organized by the AD FSR together with CSDR TU Confederation, SIPA ‘Muntenia’ TU of Arges County and FSLI TU Federation on the 22nd of October 2011 in Bucharest as part of the enlargement of the European Joint Social Conference process. More than 120 representatives
The 2nd Edition of the Joint Social Conference in Romania was organized by the AD FSR together with CSDR TU Confederation, SIPA ‘Muntenia’ TU of Arges County and FSLI TU Federation on the 22nd of October 2011 in Bucharest as part of the enlargement of the European Joint Social Conference process. More than 120 representatives of Trade Unions, NGOs and Social Movements and Networks from Romania and 8 European countries (Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Serbia) took part in the event. As a sequel, this aims at continuing and entrenching at the next level the initiative started in September 2010 in the City of Pitesti, Romania – that was the first edition of the Joint Social Conference in Romania. The JSC Ro 2 aimed at gathering all the 5 (five) major TU Confederations in Romania, important Romanian TU Federations in different sectors of activity, as well as Romanian actors of the Civil Society (Social Movements, NGOs, etc) around 2 (two) Themes of paramount and common interests for all, namely ‘Democratic Governance. Concept and Alternatives’ and ‘Corruption. Approach and Combat’. The aforementioned Themes have been taken from the List of Priorities set by the JSC in Brussels on 10th of March 2011. Beyond that, the JSC Ro 2 aimed at acting as a multi-level engine-bridge connecting not only the Romanian initiative to European initiatives such as the JSC, but also other Central-Eastern European countries to Europe, as well as amongst themselves and with Romania. Given the European relevance of the JSC Ro 2, the conference has been supported by the Initiative Committee of the European Joint Social Conference (JSC IC). For similar reasons, it has been supported by the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung – South Eastern Europe Office in Belgrade.
The logic of organizing a Social Conference in Romania follows after getting involved in the process of organizing and participating at the European Joint Social Conference in Brussels – see www.jointsocialconference.eu. Most of the reasoning behind it is applicable to this initiative in Romania. Moreover, this could become a role-model for practically implementing at National level, as well as at Central-European level, the experiences, the guiding principles and objectives shared and agreed upon by Trade Unions and Social Movements at European level. In other words, this means thinking globally and acting locally/regionally to reinforce a European initiative/process. In terms of European relevance, the JSC Ro 2 aimed at a number of strategic targets, namely:
- setting a role-model example of a common Trade Union and Social Movements approach concerning social, economic, political, and cultural problems in contrast to the approach of the government, of the political class and self-entitled ‘elites’;
- opening a new European perspective to the problems faced by Trade Unions in Romania as well as to their struggle;
- acting like a catalyst for Romania and Central-Eastern Europe along the aforementioned;
- becoming a source and resource of organized/structured solidarity and unity in terms of democratic joint social response against non-democratic neo-liberal Governmental and EU policies
Alike in case of the Initiative of organizing the European Joint Social Conference in Brussels, one should bear in mind that this is yet an experiment in Romania and so much the more in Central-Europe – where political, historical, cultural and psycho-social conditions are rather different than those in Western Europe.
NECESSITY OF STRENGHTENING SUCH INITIATIVE IN ROMANIA
The political necessity of having organized the JSC Ro 2 lies in the fact that Romania has arguably been the European country where the most aggressive anti-social and counter productive Austerity measures have been taken so far. One year ago salaries in the Public Sector were cut by 25%, pensions by 15%, scholarships for pupils and students as well as allocations for under full age children by 10%, whilst the VAT was raised from 19% to 24%. We are talking about a country of huge discrepancies where the salaries and pensions of the vast majority of the people are probably the lowest in the whole European Union (the real average salary is less than 180 Euro per month whilst the real average pension is less than 150 Euro per month) but the salaries of high officials in State/Public Companies and National Agencies (mining companies, electricity and gas companies, railway companies, aviation agencies and companies, etc) and the Government may amount up to 50,000 Euro per month. We are talking about a country where generalized Corruption is probably the highest in Europe. We are talking about a country where State and Public Authorities, have been politicized and subdued to the PDL State-like Dictatorial Party. We are talking about a country where one of the fundamental Principles of Democracy and Lawful State, namely the Principle of Separation of Powers in the State, has been shattered by the political influence of the Political Power. Speaking about the dangers posed by the ‘Economic Governance’ and the ‘Euro Plus Pact’ that are to be voted in the Plenary Session of the European Parliament during the month of June 2011, one should be aware of the fact that the aims of the aforementioned have already been forcefully and undemocratically imposed in Romania. All in all, the situation in Romania, which may well be a smaller-scale neoliberal experiment to be exported and implemented throughout Europe, is characterized by the following:
- governing illegitimately and anti-socially by by-passing the Parliament and trespassing the Constitution by means of enforcing so-called Governmental Emergency Ordinances instead of having democratically adopted laws in the Parliament;
- the enforcement of the main political lines of the Euro Plus Pact and of the Economic Governance package ahead of their adoption at the European level;
- undermining and dismantling the only force in the society that put up a significant opposition to the Austerity plans, namely the Trade Unions;
- fragmentation of Romanian society and driving it into deep impoverishment and social insecurity;
- tendency towards Mutant Capitalist Dictatorship by serious derailment from the fundamental Principles and Values of Lawful State, of Constitutional Democracy and of Human Rights and Liberties. This tendency has lately become overt by the political deeds of the President and of the Prime Minister.
JSC RO 2 OBJECTIVES – LONG-TERM OBJECTIVES
- establishing a structured cooperation platform between Romanian, i.e. Central Eastern, Trade Unions, Social Movements and NGOs, following the European JSC process model and within its frame, in order to generate coherent joint social responses to the neo-liberal paradigm both at National and European level;
- influencing Governmental and EU policies by amending them, presenting alternatives, taking stands and organizing concrete actions, in favour of observing people’s rights and interests;
- becoming a relevant process in itself and a source of inspiration.
- building up trust between various Trade Unions as well as between Trade Unions and Social Movements and NGOs in Romania;
- understanding the European JSC process;
- exchange of information and experience between participants;
- finding common priorities of action in Romania, i.e. in Central-Eastern Europe, that are part of general European priorities (ex: Fair Taxation System; European coordination on wages; Minimum income vs. national poverty level; Collective Bargain; Against corruption; Democratic process on economic government; pensions as fundamental right, Debts and Deficits, etc);
- enlarging the European JSC process and JSC Ro process by getting officially involved at least another major Trade Union Confederation from Romania;
- making the process known to the public.
There are at least 4 (four) positive results of JSC Ro 2:
- Establishing the JSC Ro rather as a process than as an experience through continuation of the implementation of the European JSC experience in Romania, which was initially started in September 2010 with the 1st Edition of JSC Ro;
- Linking the European level of initiatives with the National level of realities, needs and initiatives, particularly with those in Central-Eastern European countries.
In turn, this may have a number of positive results as follows:
· it may lead to a better understanding of the cultural, political, social, and economic realities in the region, that is to say it may enrich the Western European experience and initiatives;
· it may enrich the Central-Eastern European political culture and experience in terms of Trade Unions, Social Movements and NGOs
· it may lead to finding new and better ways of cooperation in terms of Trade Union and Social Movements initiatives and struggles;
· it may lead to a better coordination between European and National struggles/actions/events
- Establishing the JSC Ro experience as a Role-Model to be followed in other countries, particularly in Central-Eastern Europe;
- Probably the most important achievement of the JSC Ro 2 consists in adopting the Final Declaration of JSC Ro 2. This important document has been the political quintessence of more than one and a half year of work. It spells, for the first time in Romania, about a joint endeavor of Trade Unions and representatives of the Civil Society not only to criticize, but also to submit concrete demands and proposals to both the Legislative and the Executive.
The most disturbing negative results of JSC Ro 2 consist of the following:
- In spite of having been repeatedly invited, none of the 4 (four) major TU Confederations except the CSDR TU Confederations showed up at the event. This may well be evaluated as an attempt to boycott the JSC Ro 2;
- In spite of having been repeatedly invited, few of the more than 400 (four) most important NGOs invited showed up at the event. We evaluate such outcome as follows: on one hand it is yet another proof that Civil Society does not exist in Romania in the form it does exist elsewhere in Europe; on the other hand, this is an evidence of shear lack of Political Culture and Vision as well as of the policy of submission to the Neoliberal Political Power;
- In spite of having been present and represented by their Presidents, neither the CSDR TU Confederation nor the FSLI TU Federation have signed the Final Declaration until now. Regrettably, negative political suspicions and implications of such attitude have soared ever since.