Trends and Prospects in 34 Countries
Edited By Craig Phelan
Reinventing Trade Unions in Romania:Building Legitimacy in a Changing Society 379
GEORGETA GHEBREA Reinventing Trade Unions in Romania: Building Legitimacy in a Changing Society 1. Introduction: Challenges and Opportunities during the Post-Communist Transition After 1989 the former Romanian communist trade union (UGSR) suf- fered an implosion – as did all the monolithic communist structures – and, consequently, new and different trade-union structures emerged. The citizens of Romanian enthusiastically discovered the delights of free association, and in the first two years (1990 and 1991) there was a dynamic process of proliferation of new and free unions at all levels: company, sectoral and national. Reinventing the social partnership took place in a turbulent eco- nomic and political context. As a consequence of economic restructur- ing, which resulted in increasing unemployment and early retirements, the number of employees fell dramatically after 1990. New jobs created in the private sector were often not protected by union affili- ation. They were poorly paid, insecure, with some falling into the informal economy. This process led to rapid de-unionisation, as only a few emerging trade unions covered the private sector. Cutbacks in the state sector in these years also exacerbated trade union decline. In 1990 there were about 9 million union members (90 per cent of the employees). Available sources estimate the current number of the union members in Romania is between 2 and 2.5 mil- lion. Current union density is 24 per cent of the total labour force and 44 per cent of employees (Ghebrea 2005: 160). The highest density rates (over 70 per cent) are found in mining,...
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