There used to be a time when the European Community, as the EU was first called, wouldn’t contemplate admitting in the club a country tainted with abuse of civil liberties. Many knocked on its door for years while they cleaned their act and equipped themselves with a modicum of institutions and policies promoting human rights and the basket of universally recognised freedom such as freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of assembly and freedom of movement.
Recent enlargement has brought in countries where press freedom and pluralism is still fragile and may even be unobtainable in the near future. Many old democracies look the other way, but not all. A report published last March by the UK House of Lord EU committee reflected that the EU should ensure that new entrants are committed to democracy and that reforms in these countries must be irreversible prior to accession.
Take the example of Romania where the local IFJ affiliate, MediaSind, representing the majority of Romanian journalists, have been engaged in an epic stand off with the management of the Romanian Radio Broadcasting Society which remains run by state appointees as a private fiefdom irrespective of rules and legislation.
The union claimed that the society’s current CEO, Ovidiu Miculescu, allegedly passed an agreement in the dark old days with the Securitate to spy on journalists. If that was not bad enough the CEO is engaged in a vicious witch-hunt against the union and its leaders. Adrian Moise, who leads the employees’ side in the board of directors and president of the joint trade unions group at the corporation, received the harshest treatment. He was targeted and summarily dismissed on trumped up charges. He says the real motive was that he dared raise with the corporation flagrant breaches of the collective labour agreement and asked questions about the continued practice of political appointments at the head of the corporation.
RBC management continued its harassment of the union by ordering a break in into its offices of the United Trade Union of Employees at the corporation and removing documents and archives – something they admit. In a letter sent to me they say that “The documents and property belonging to the union led by Mr. Adrian Moise are stored in good conditions, in compliance with the legislation in force and internal rules, and Mr. Adrian Moise has free access to it at any moment, a right that he does not want to exercise.” Media Sind has now complained to the Prosecutor’s Office at the High Court of Cassation and Justice and will take, with the help of the IFJ, their case to the ILO.
Harassing trade unions, sacking their officials, breaking by force into their offices may have been bread and butter practices of Securitate, but they should have no place in a Europe of 2013.