Miners obtained a revenue increase following an illegal strike at a critical time for the national energy system. Stopping work in quarries has consumed in a single week almost all the coal reserves crucial for the cold season and could have led to a drastic reduction in the contribution of coal-fired power plants to the current electricity demand. Coal typically contributes 25-30% to the electricity generation mix.
“Following the negotiations on today, 17.01.2019, from the headquarters of Gorj Prefecture, between the Ministry of Energy, the management of the CE Oltenia and the unions in the company, the miners started to resume work”, appeared on the website of the Ministry of Energy. However, it was only on Thursday evening, near 20 o’clock, when official sources confirmed that “the activity in all the quarries in the CE Oltenia has resumed.”
About 9,500 miners work within CE Oltenia. Several hundred of them, employees of several quarries (Jilţ Nord, Jilţ Sud, Roşiuţa and Motru) went on strike since Friday evening with a list of claims including, among other, the improvement of working conditions, the granting of protective equipment, the increase of the salary starting from 4,000 lei/employee, payment of Saturday and Sunday working days with 100% bonus, granting holiday vouchers.
On Monday, the Chairman of CE Oltenia Directorate Sorin Boza said that the company’s budget cannot support the union’s request to increase salaries by 45%. “We discussed that we could offer somewhere between 10% and 12% more, only for the working staff, not for TESA, about 12-13% for the workers”, said Sorin Boza.
On Thursday afternoon, the Energy Ministry announced that the management of the CE Oltenia proposed to the miners a 1,000 lei increase of the monthly gross salary for the workers and gave assurance that there would be no repercussions on those who started the strike.
It is not clear to what extent wage increases obtained comply with the provisions of Ordinance 26/2013, mainly Article 9, which makes the substantiation of revenue and expenditure budgets of the economic operators where the State is a sole or majority shareholder, subject, inter alia, to “specific performance criteria and the quantified targets for reducing outstanding payments and claims, reducing losses, increasing profits, turnover, and increasing labor productivity… “.
In terms of profitability, 2017 was the only good year for CE Oltenia in the last five years, in part based on a 25% reduction in the number of employees (13,704 in 2017, compared to 18,438 in 2014). However, 2018 marked the return of the company in the red. “The European Commission estimated at the beginning of 2018 a price of €8 per emission certificate, an estimate based on which we have built our budget. The price has reached €22. The difference led to a huge financial loss that exceeds the positive operating result and, on the whole, we are in red”, said Sorin Boza, quoted by Agerpres.