We present your delegate from ..... Romania!


The ESSDE delegate from Romania is Alexandra CORNEA, Director of International Relationship, Program and Training Department of FSLE (Free Trade Union Federation in Education).

Please, tell us about yourself and describe what a typical work day looks like for you!

Twelve years ago, I started to work in the trade union movement after completing my mission like expert in child protection and social welfare for EU Phare Program, World Bank and USAID. I graduated the National School of Political and Administrative Studies - Communication and Public Relations Faculty and I am licensed in political marketing and public image of leaders and institutions, so since the begging of my career I try to put in practice my professional skills and to do something for those who need help. Very soon I realized that only a punctual help is not efficient on long term and is necessary to change the systems and create public policies. In this way, working in the European team who create in Romania the system of child protection after the Revolution in 1989, I discover the benefits of working by projects and the world of NGO’s, of the volunteers and professionals involved in social welfare. With this background and also knowing deeply the education system (my parents are both trade unionists and teachers) I started to work for FSLE.

My typical day at work is usually very challenging because I coordinate not only the International Department, but also various programs implemented at national level by FSLE and a network with 12 training centers. After a briefly information meeting with FSLE president, I usually have other short meeting with my team and then, I go through my e-mails, reply to most urgent requests and then the day can really start. I am part of various negotiations with state administration bodies and social partners, I advise the president on current political and social issues, communicate with media, coordinate and organize seminars, conferences and other events. I elaborate policy papers, and also all the projects implemented in the last 6 years by my organization. Being in charge of international relations, I also communicate with ETUCE or EI, fill in surveys and I try to participate actively at the meetings organized abroad and contribute with my experience a developing the social dialogue inside of our organizations. Other face of my activity is design the curriculums for our trainings and also be trainer on project management, leadership and communication for my colleagues. Also, I never forgot my first working experience in social area and I am very focus on promoting and developing equal opportunities in my country, and I hope my experience will be useful to ETUCE’s Standing Committee for Equality of which I am part. So, I have to be very organized and to keep the balance. I try to do the best as much is possible for our teachers’ welfare.

For how long have you been involved in social dialogue both at national and at European level?

I have been involved in social dialogue at national level since the beginning of my work for our trade union. I am usually part of the FSLE team at various meeting with our social partners or I am replacing my President when he should attend at other meetings. One of my tasks is also to prepare short reports of all meetings regarding social dialogue are to inform the members of the Executive Board. At European level I have been the ESSDE delegate for the Romania for almost four years. Through this engagement, I was a member of the advisory group in the project “Promoting the potentials of the European sectoral social dialogue in education by addressing new challenges and exploring experience and knowledge” conducted by ETUCE few years ago.

What is the current situation with regard to the education social dialogue in your country?

Social dialogue in the education sector in Romania is quite fluctuant and challenging. When missing dialogue, the political and legislative monsters appear. That happened in 2010 when social dialogue was entirely suppressed. We did not have, in that time, the right to enter in the Ministry of Education building. It was forbidden! At that time, in Romania, the remuneration of education employees were reduced on average by 40% and this is still affected the teachers. Today, in 2016, we still have to recover arrears of 15% to reach the rights they had in 2009. Obviously we in the schools protested 3 weeks continuously in front of the Ministry of Education and demanded resignation Minister and as "punishment", the Government have found a solution that tried to abolish the union movement. They were forbidden to collect dues form our members on the payroll. The target was clear: destroy the trade union movement in secondary education, because we were the only ones in the streets protesting against the regime. Obviously they had to pay for this and are 6 years since this political party is in opposition, and teachers were among the initiators of popular movements that led to this result! After this episode followed years in which we fought in court to obtain labor rights, nearly 100,000 processes, supporting each teacher.

In spring of 2012, it was installed a new government, which at the proposal of unions, established the Ministry for Social Dialogue and the first minister appointed was the Secretary General of FSLE.

This was a huge step forward to open the channels for a social dialogue in Romania, after 6 years of where it has been frozen.

Dialogue is an important and sensitive topic. Social dialogue means sustainability, normalcy and civilization. We function in Romania relying on a law that has "jumped" a few steps in building an institutionalized and effective social dialogue and should cease the practice of abuse of power by those who governing, so the National Education Law to be implemented based on mutually agreement. All the actors should learn that the solution comes only using dialogue. It is very important how we relate to problems.

We must admit that our requirements were not fully met, in particular the granting of 6% of GDP for education, school infrastructure and improving working conditions and wage growth.

A huge problem for education sector in Romania is continuous reform of the system. In the past 25 years, the education law has been amended over 60 times, and ministers have changed 20 times. Each of the 20 ministers came up with his ideas, visions, approaches and strategies and amended the Education Law as you see fit. Another big problem is the Pay Law in public service system, also amended many times, causing deep disparities and inequities in terms of salaries in education sector. The wages of employees in education in Romania are one of the lowest in Europe. In the last four years, using the mechanisms of social dialogue we organized regular meetings with the Minister of Education, Minister of Social Dialogue and the Minister of Finances and we work together on amendments of the legislation and we discuss also the possibilities to increase the education sector’s budget.

Unfortunately, the new technocrat Govern installed in January 2016 chosen to ignore the achievements of social dialogue in the last four years and also the proposals for a Pay Law in public service system, even the whole Romanian society is extremely preoccupied and interested in the quality of education and the working conditions at schools and in the health system too. It is very difficult to work in such a complicated environment and to develop good relations with the social partner who changes completely the approach.

When the dialogue is no possible, when the voices of the employees and the entire society are not listen, when the opening to communication is ignored, is the time for protests!

Our organization and the others two union form education sector, with the support of students and parents associations decided these days organize several days of protest under the slogan “Together for Education!”. Since 25th of May, all Romanian high schools’ teachers and students have protested in the school yards to the ongoing sound of the school bells. On 1 June 2016, we expect about 15.000 teachers to come out on the streets of Bucharest to gather outside the building of government, then to walk through town and to the Palace of the Romanian President. With this action, we’ll give a strong signal for the importance to invest more means into public education.

What are the main issues at stake for your organization?

The main issues, which our trade union is focused, are collective bargaining, social dialogue, quality assurance in education by implementing standards, trainings for our members to develop the skills and competencies, dissemination of information, legal advice, projects who can improve the working conditions in schools.

Like any teachers union in Europe, we also concentrate our efforts to increase the social and economic status of teachers and other employees in education, to give back to the teachers the dignity of this profession and a motivation for a career in system. We believe that higher salaries and better working conditions can convince the young students to become teachers. A modern approach of the learning process will generate more interested and motivated pupils in our schools and on long term will be an added value for our society.

What opportunities does your engagement in the ESSDE possibly open up for your work at home and vice versa?

A good cooperation between trade unions and employers' organizations will lead to strategies influencing national policies. European social dialogues is complementary to the national level and support us to push the Government to open the communication channels for a constructive dialogue involving the social partners on the key issue, giving them the examples of the other countries. Also in the last six years the support of ETUCE was extremely important for us in all difficult stages of this dialogue. We learned very much from the cooperation inside of ESSDE and also from the cooperation between ETUCE and EFEE during the common projects. All the issues and topics debated in the framework of ESSDE were important for us and the best practices can be transfer at national level. Also the Romanian unions actively in the field of education, through ESSDE representative can contribute at the development of a constructive and efficient social dialogue at European level. FSLE support EFEE in opening a communication channel with Romanian Ministry of National Education in order to become member of this European organization and to attend at ESSDE meetings, because we strongly believe that together employees and employers can build a better society.

With regards to the very new ESSDE work program 2016-17, what topic lies at the heart of the concerns of your members and why?

The teachers union in Romania has identified some important topics in the current ESSDE work program 2016 - 2017 regarding the Romanian education system.

We are and will keep be focused on “Supporting teachers, trainers and school leaders” because one of our main challenges is to enhancing the professional profile of teachers, trainers and school leaders, by improving effective initial education, early career support, and focus on continuous professional learning and development.

Also, FSLE make a strong lobby for promoting “Vocational education and training and Apprenticeships” in Romania. We are very active in increasing the role of VET teachers, trainers and school leaders of VET in apprenticeship schemes and stimulating the link VET/apprenticeship and labor market. In this respect FSLE introduced this year in Parliament a legislative initiative regarding providing scholarships and allowances for accommodation and meals for children who choose to study in VET system.

In a nutshell: What makes a good dialogue?

In my opinion an efficient social dialogue should be based on communication, openness to listen to the views of partners, common goals, and professionalism.

Social dialogue both at European and national level should rely heavily on existing expertise in the field, the data synthesis, research results, which can substantiate very good decisions and that can be found quickly an agreement between the social partners on measures to reform the education. This expertise means legitimacy and confidence in the results of a quality social dialogue.