Delaying unpaid holiday to speed up layoffs

Publish date: 02-11-2009
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Romania's interim government is trying to find an alternative to the ten-day unpaid holiday, in order to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that the country can meet the 7.3 percent budget deficit target and deserves the release of the third tranche of the stand-by agreement.

Reducing staff-related expenses in the public sector will be made through layoffs rather than by cuts in salaries, considering that it is already late for applying the ten-day unpaid holiday, according to the President of Cartel Alfa, Bogdan Hossu. The trade union leader added that the government can only lower salaries and pensions temporarily, "exceptionally," with the differences to be paid out later.

"The forced holiday is no longer an option, because they came up with the idea too late. The ten days, with the approval of trade unions, should have come out of the normal holiday time, which is paid. They tried to impose this measure, which led only to tension and disagreements," Hossu said.

The official added that, even though talks between state institutions and employee representatives to find ways to cut staff-related expenses were initiated, these were suspended since the fall of the government, and are expected to resume once a new government is appointed and a new President is elected. Officials of the Ministry of Finance said they are analyzing other possibilities for cutting back on expenses, one of them a total freeze of recruitment in the public sector. "The impossibility of applying the measure for the ten-day unpaid holiday in the public sector leads to a risk for meeting the budget deficit target, but the "Minister of Public Finance is considering compensating the RON 1.6 billion," Minister of Finance Gheorghe Pogea said last week.

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