Spontaneous protest at the metro wreaks havoc in Bucharest traffic. Transports minister files complaint to DNA

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The metro transport has been disrupted on Friday morning by a spontaneous protest of several representatives of the USLM (Metro Free Union) in the Unirii Square station. Protesters went down in the tunnel, on the rail road, and prevented passenger trains from starting on time, according to normal hours, Metrorex reported.

“The so-called spontaneous protest is in fact a union action, during which USLM representatives refused any attempt at dialogue with Metrorex management. Although the trade unionists made it clear that they had a list of requests, repeated invitations to meet with the company’s management were completely ignored over the night,” Metrorex representatives said in a statement.

They argued that, due to the union’s action, but especially for the safety of its members, who were on the rail road, the metro lines could not be switched on for the operation of passenger trains.

“In this way we would like to make an apology to the Bucharesters and ask them to understand that, although we consider the union action unjustified, we cannot risk the lives of some people. We also assure the inhabitants of the Capital City that we take all legal action at our disposal to restart the metro’s activity safely”, Metrorex representatives stated.

“Currently there are about 600 participants attending the protest. We mention that Metrorex employees who were supposed to ensure the running of the trains today went to job as usual. The protest action is illegal, disrupts public order and prevents the normal operation of the train. Metrorex reserves the right to use all available legal means to stop this illegality,” Metrorex said in a press release.

The Friday’s strike had not been announced either to the energy distributor of Metrorex in Bucharest, Getica 95. Due to that, the entire energy system of the Capital city has been shaken, considering that Metrorex consumes a great part of this energy, 25 MW per hour.

Moreover, the entire traffic in Bucharest has been affected, as  subway passengers took taxis and public transportation means by storm.

Prime Minister Florin Citu said that the subway protest is illegal, and accused Ion Radoi, the leader of the metro trade union and a former Social Democratic Party (PSD) deputy of provoking it, for Radoi “is losing his sinecures”. The PM announced that he had asked the Minister of Interior, Lucian Bode, to take measures.

A former PSD deputy, who sees his sinecures disappear, makes an illegal protest. That is what the illegal action that blocked the subway this morning is about. From my point of view, no one is above the law, that’s what I conveyed to the minister and he needs to take action. The people of Bucharest must not suffer because a former PSD deputy is losing his sinecures. I conveyed the same message to Minister Bode,” the prime minister wrote on Facebook on Friday.

Transport minister Catalin Drula revealed that the metro trade union for starting the strike due to the ministry’s announcement that the business premises inside the metro stations will be closed. The minister explained that the rents for these premises went directly to the pockets of the trade union although the venues are public spaces. Drula said he won’t give in to the trade unionists’ pressures.

“An illegal action has messed up an entire city. When mafia interests are threatened, a bunch of people are getting nervous to preserve some privileges and sinecures. The fact that the USLM trade union is keeping the subway blocked is a slap in the face of the entire country. We are not talking only about the Bucharesters, who today could not use the metro, but about all the tax payers who are supporting through subsidies from the national budget the activity and the salaries of the metro company. Honest people who work at the subway came to work this morning to the benefit of passengers. I have all appreciation for them.

Don’t let yourselves fooled: the stake of the illegal occupation of the metro tracks is not for the benefit of the employees. No, the stake represents the onerous affairs with renting the commercial premises. It is beyond any doubt, considering the notification sent yesterday for the retailers to evacuate the premises that they have been illegally occupied after the contract between Metrorex and the company of USLM trade union had expired in 2018. A company, a trade union want to act like a tick on Metrorex. We shall not give in, the law is on our side”, minister Drulă posted on Facebook.

Later on Friday, Minister Drula announced he had just filed a criminal complaint at DNA against all responsible for blocking the Bucharest subway. “We ask prosecutors to identify the people against whom we can held responsible to recover the money lost to the strike in the civil court. The prejudice’s estimation is under way”, Drula said.

In his turn, Bucharest mayor Nicusor Dan said that “Bucharesters cannot be held prisoners by a trade union abuse”.

Metrorex  has also notified the Capital Police on the situation at the metro, invoking the breach of the law on terrorism prevention and combat, the complaint having been filed on an emergency basis with the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT).

According to a Friday release, the Capital Police announced they received a notification from Metrorex, on a breach of article 1 of Law 535/2004 on the prevention and combat of terrorism.

At the same time, the General Directorate of Bucharest Police is conducting an inquiry on declaring the metro strike as illegal, while the Gendarmerie has applied 23 sanctions worth RON 125,000 to the protesters.

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