A delegation composed of Maître Hélène Rubinstein-Carrera, attorney emeritus, Jean-Pierre Daymard, teacher and Force Ouvrière trade unionist (in a personal capacity), and François Rampin, member of the international group of the CGT district union of Paris, was received, at its request, on the morning of 27 January 2022 at the Romanian Embassy in Paris.
The Romanian Embassy, in the person of the Attaché for Social and Labour Affairs, responded favourably to our request for an audience concerning our comrade Constantin Cretan, who is a former Vice-President of the Miners’ Trade Union Federation and who, since February 2020, has been the subject of legal proceedings for payment of his modest miner’s retirement pension and the confiscation of his property.
In a letter dated 19 November 2021, we described the untenable situation of trade unionist Cretan, who had been the victim of repression for strikes in the past. Indeed, 17 years ago, in 2005, Constantin Cretan, following a strike decided by the miners’ unions of the Jiu Valley for an increase in the mining budget in 1999, was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment along with 5 other union leaders by the High Court of Justice and Appeals (judgment of 28 September 2005).
Imprisoned the day after his conviction, he was released in 2008 for health reasons, then rehabilitated in 2019.
How are we to understand that in February 2020 15 years after a final court decision was executed the Tax Administration could seize Constantin Cretan’s retirement pension?
During our meeting on 27 January 2022, the Embassy Attaché informed us of the tax authorities’ reply to our very detailed letter of 19 November 2021: insofar as no court has annulled the 2005 judgment setting out the damages, or ordered its enforcement, the enforcement procedure will continue.
We were surprised that enforcement could be justified 15 years after the conviction.
Is there not a statute of limitations? Could it be that Constantin Cretan’s trade union activity since his release is the cause of these proceedings? Indeed, Constantin Cretan campaigned for the incorporation of miners’ pensions into special schemes – which was obtained but has not been implemented.
We might have recalled, during this interview, that the conditions of this seizure procedure against a trade unionist presents all the characteristics of a clear repression against trade union activity.
Romania has ratified ILO Convention 87. And when Constantin Cretan and his comrades were convicted and imprisoned in 2005, a complaint lodged in 2006 by the Romanian Trade Union Confederation, MERDIAN, led the ILO’s Committee on Trade Union Freedoms to conclude that these acts were an infringement of the free exercise of the right to organise.
The Embassy Attaché assured us that the content of our meeting would be passed on to the authorities, as well as our wish to go to Romania to be received by the Minister of Justice. He said he was in favour of keeping in touch with us and gave us his contact details so that we could have regular exchanges. For our part, in order to put an end to the seizure of Constantin Cretan’s pension and to ensure that all the sums deducted are returned to him, we will publicise this cause in the trade union movement in France and internationally.
Paris, 27 January 2022
Hélène Rubinstein-Carrera, Attorney Emeritus
Jean-Pierre Daymard, teacher and Force Ouvrière trade unionist (in a personal capacity)
François Rampin, member of the international group of the CGT district union of Paris