We will present in this article the story of a group of workers from the De’Longhi factory in Jucu Herghelie, Cluj county, who went on a spontaneous strike just a few days before the winter holidays of 2016 to ask management for equal rights with the rest of the workers. More precisely, they also wanted to receive gift coupons, just like the other workers from the factory. As management ignored their demands, a group of 21 out the 23 employees working on the Brown production line went on strike for several hours to try and get similar treatment as the rest of the workers.
Once informed, their direct superiors asked them to leave the factory if they were not going to work, but after talking things out they reached an agreement to wait in the mess hall until people from upper management will come and speak to them. As they waited, their supervisors would constantly threaten them by telling them repeatedly that things will not stand like this and that there will be repercussions. The situation calmed down after a representative from upper management came and told them that everything is going to be ok and that all demands will be met.
Just a few days after the strike the factory was closed for the winter holidays and all was calm, but as they got back to work in January the workers found out that management had not decided to let things stand and started persecuting only the workers who dared go on a strike. They soon found out that the Brown production line they had been part of had been closed and that they were broken up and assigned to different production lines. This action was deliberately taken to break up the group so as not to prevent them from having direct contact with one another.
Two weeks had passed and all seemed to get back on track, until the 17th of January when out of the blue 5 workers (all of them had participated in the strike) had been called one by one to the Human Resources office and tricked into signing a bunch of documents without being told what they were signing, nor having the possibility to read for themselves. The truth was that they had just signed their resignations and from that moment on they weren’t employees of the factory anymore.
Management wasn’t satisfied with only these five resignations and would constantly indirectly threaten the rest of the workers who participated at the strike that they would end up in the same position. The group of 5 who had been tricked had reacted first by announcing the local media and going public with their story. This is how our community found out about the case.
At first we launched a solidarity letter, which the local press picked up and which we also sent to De’Longhi, in which we demanded that the company stop persecuting the workers who had only demanded that they be treated the same as the others.
The company did not reply and so we went on and contacted the initial group who had gone public. They were the ones who helped us get in touch with the others who were still working so we could inform them what their rights were and that they were not obligated to sign anything. After two days some of the workers we were in contact with told us that two other colleagues had gone through the same process and that they were too scared not to sign. They also informed us that all of the remaining strikers had been called to a meeting on the 31st of January. This was the moment when we launched a second solidarity letter, also denouncing what was going on at De’Longhi.
It has come to our attention, after discussing with the female workers that took part in the wildcat strike at the end of 2016, that the administration of the De’Longi Romania factory from Jucu, Cluj county, continues to force its workers to sign their resignation papers as a punishment for their actions.
A short chronology of the events
A few days before the winter holidays, 21 of the 23 people working on the Brown production line went on spontaneous strike, asking that they be offered the same bonus as had been promised to all the workers from the factory. In the early stages of the strike, the employer asked the workers on strike (through the voice of the personnel from the human resources department and that of the higher ranking workers) to leave the premises of the building. During the strike, the workers were threatened that they would face repercussions for their actions and that they would be fired.
The activity at the Jucu facility was suspended for the period of the winter holidays. When the workers returned to work after the first of January, they found themselves reassigned to other lines and shifts so that they wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other. Practically, the employer (through its representatives) tried to divide the group of workers that had expressed their discontent with the perceived inequities.
Subsequently, one more worker “handed in her resignation” (in reality being constrained to do it) in the same disrespectful manner that disregards the worker’s dignity and freedom to choose whether he or she decides to resign or not – a fundamental right, guaranteed by labor code as well as by individual work contracts.
On the 19th of January, our community forwarded an address to the management of De’Longhi, demanding that they cease these abusive practices, but it has remained unanswered. What is more, yesterday, on the 25th of January, two more people were forced to quit their jobs against their will.
Taking these incident into accounts, we consider this a good opportunity to demand that you cease any behavior that hurt the workers’ dignity and, especially, that you stop forcing your employees to sign their resignation. Such practices are undoubtedly illegal, abusive and immoral, and the signatories of this letter with continue to express their solidarity with the workers that the company has persecuted.
The signature list is open. Those wishing to express their solidarity can sign here.
We had managed to gather enormous support from numerous organizations from Romania and abroad, but also from individuals, which pressured the company not to continue its abusive actions against the strikers. We had managed to show that by standing in solidarity with others we can fight back the authoritarian powers of capital. We call it a partial victory as we regret not being able to help the workers who had already been dismissed before we found out about the case, but we are determined to build a strong workers movement here in Romania, one which will join the international fight with workers from other countries to oppose capitalism.