Interview with Oleg Budza, President of the National Confederation of Trade Unions of Moldova (CNSM), for “Almanah Politic-2020”
Mr. Budza, what did the year 2020 mean for CNSM?
The year 2020 was marked by the start of the pandemic of COVID-19, which was a major challenge for all the country’s population and the economy as a whole, an unprecedented crisis in scale, including worldwide, which has promoted adaptation to new conditions of activity.
For the National Confederation of Trade Unions of Moldova, the year 2020 meant the adaptation of priorities and annual activities in response to the pandemic, in the context of defending the rights of trade union members according to the CNSM Strategy for 2017-2022. It was also a year of elections for some national branch trade union centers. Since 24 member organizations of CNSM, congresses were held in 14 national-branch trade union centers, during which the results obtained during the years 2015-2020 were discussed and the objectives for the next 5 years were outlined.
Important to stress it that the CNSM has had an efficient and valuable cooperation with international organizations and external partners, including: International Labor Organization, International Trade Union Confederation, Pan-European Regional Council, World Bank, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation Moldova , UNDP Moldova, Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum and others.
To what extent has the pandemic been exposed to the activity of CNSM?
The challenges facing the Republic of Moldova have affected the employees from all over the country, due to restrictions imposed by the authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19, thus reducing economic activity and reducing the income of the population. During this difficult period, the unions’ efforts have been directed to ensure that the rights and interests of workers affected as a result of job suspension, technical unemployment, termination of employment and long-distance work, not allowing employees to reduce their rights, as well as supporting workers who are trained in the first line to combat the pandemic.
Which three actions of CNSM do you consider the most successful in 2020?
During the year, CNSM came up with several initiatives and proposals to the authorities, being elaborated and adopted several laws, among which Law no. 127/2020 on the granting of compensation of the indemnity of the survivors of medical staff who died as a result of medical activity in the fight against COVID-19, tax exemption, state social insurance contributions and compulsory health insurance premiums of expenses incurred by employers for testing employees in order to identify the COVID-19 virus. Due to the firm position of the Confederation, on the Parliament meeting on November 19, 2020, the bill to amend some normative acts was voted in both readings. The aim of the project is to restore the control duties of the State Labor Inspectorate in the field of occupational safety and health and in the field of employment relationships, ensuring its functional integrity. Another important achievement refers to the fact that the Laboratory Control of Risk Factors of the Labor Inspectorate of Trade Unions obtained the Accreditation Certificate from the National Accreditation Center of the Republic of Moldova MOLDAC, for the competence of tests performed and compliance with the requirements of SM EN ISO / IEC 17025: 2018. The laboratory performs instrumental measurements of physical factors, and the services shall be provided free of charge, to the entities where trade unions organizations are active.
What did you fail to do of the ones you planned at the beginning of the year?
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been possible to sign two draft collective agreements (national level) on allowances for work under favorable conditions and to approve the way and conditions for the award of qualification classes to drivers. At the same time, it was not possible to initiate the processes of ratification of some conventions of the International Labor Organization (ILO), on which CNSM insists for a long time – Convention no. 161 on occupational health services; Convention no. 173 on the protection of wage claims in the event of the insolvency of the employer, which is very topical, especially due to the consequences of the pandemic, and others.
How was the dialogue with the social partners in 2020?
Maintaining a functional social dialogue was essential in the context of the socio-economic situation. Although the restrictions imposed temporarily suspended the activity of the National Commission for Consultations and Collective Bargaining (CNCNC), in August 2020 its meetings were resumed. Throughout the year, the unions had a permanent dialogue with the state authorities in order to solve the most pressing problems faced by employees, union members. We have to note that the collaboration with the employers was a constructive one, we often joined our efforts and solidarity on some important issues for employees.
During 2020, the social partners at national level (Government, Employers and Trade Unions) concluded three collective agreements, the author of which was CNSM: Collective Agreement no. 17 of 28 February 2020 “On the model of the Table of evidence of working time”; Collective agreement no. 18 of February 28, 2020 “For the approval of the amendments that are operated in the Collective Agreement (national level) no. 4 of July 25, 2005 “On the model of the individual employment contract”; Collective agreement no. 19 of February 28, 2020 “On the model of Scheduling annual leave”.
We must also note another success of CNSM in the dialogue with the social partners, namely, the exclusion from the Insolvency Law no. 149/2012 of the provisions establishing the right of the administrators to the unilateral termination of the collective labor contract, even if the contract had a much longer validity term. Due to the position and arguments brought by the CNSM representatives, by Law no. 141 of 16.07.2020, the purpose of the unions, namely, the repeal of art. 96 of the Insolvency Law no. 149/2012, has been achieved. In the current conditions, when employees (labor groups) and employers were put to a great test, that is, of survival, the aim of this amendment has become much more significant.
What are the objectives of CNSM in the future?
The primary objective of CNSM is and will continue to ensure respect for the rights and promote the interests of the union members regardless of the circumstances, in order to ensure a decent living and prevent the exodus of the population from the country. For the next period we set out to achieve several objectives: promoting and boosting the social partnership at all levels; non-admission of excessive flexibility and liberalization of labor legislation to the detriment of employees’ rights and interests; the non-admission of the promotion for adoption, under the pretext of the development of the business environment and the investment climate, of the new Labor Code draft, elaborated under the patronage of the Economic Council under the Prime Minister, which tends to diminish the level of employee protection. At the same time, as objectives can be mentioned: promoting the negotiation and conclusion of collective agreements (national level) on various topics; continuous cooperation with international organizations and external partners; recruitment of new trade union members; preparation for the IV Congress of CNSM; promoting the participation of young people in trade union and civic activity and promoting gender equality in trade unions.
What are your expectations from 2021?
Overcoming the pandemic crisis and the economic recovery of the country are to be the main directions of activity of the social partners in the country. CNSM has been insisting for many years on the ratification of the International Labor Convention no. 161 on occupational health services, adopted in Geneva on June 26, 1985. At the CNCNC meeting in November 2018, this issue was discussed by trade unions and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Social Protection has put forward arguments for ratifying this international document. Unfortunately, the National Confederation of Employers of the Republic of Moldova was against. The Government Action Plan for 2020-2023 includes, in point 6.25.2, the information referring to the Ratification of Convention no.161. The bill approved by the Government was submitted to the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova.
Source: Almanah Politic-2020
Emandei Nina – trainee translator