Institutionalization of HIV/AIDS Workplace Policies is Necessary in the Republic of Moldova

Elena Jidobin, ILO/GTZ Project Coordinator, National Focal Point on HIV/AIDS and World of Work

Elena Jidobin worked as coordinator of the joint ILO/GTZ project on "Implementing HIV/AIDS Workplace Policies and Programmes". The period of implementation was November 2006 – September 2009. We are discussing with Mrs Elena Jidobin the results achieved during the implementation of the project and subsequent recommendations in order to ensure implementation of HIV/AIDS workplace policies both in the public and private sector.

1. Project "Implementing HIV/AIDS Workplace Policies and Programmes" started in November 2006. Which are the results and differences between 2006 and 2009? Are these results tangible?

Tangible and substantial results were achieved during this period of three years. It is about the tripartite involvement and especially, the Government, the Confederation of Trade Unions and Confederation of Employers. Representatives of the Ministry of Labour, Social Protection and Family, the Confederation of Employers became members of the National Coordination Council on TB/AIDS. Social partners have been ongoing trained and motivated to initiate and ensure implementation of HIV/AIDS workplace policies. Talking about workplace, it is about both public and private sector. The project was a pilot one with a modest budget but aimed at covering the needs of a high number of beneficiaries and which led to proposed purposes. Therefore National Employment Agency and State Labour Inspection are willing to get involved in the implementation of mentioned policies and private sector entities as RED Union Fenosa has a formal policy in respective area. National partners benefited of a series of publications in Romanian which are available on website. I would like especially to mention the ILO Code of Practice on HIV/AIDS and the world of work and the Training Manual attached to the Code.

2. How many state institutions and companies reacted to the implementation of HIV/AIDS workplace policies/programmes?

18 public/private companies were trained. Talking about public sector, I would like to mention Ministry of Economy and Trade, which was trained and developed a draft HIV/AIDS workplace policy. This sample of policy can be taken over and adjusted by every institution from public and private sector. In the private sector 5 companies ensured the sustainability of the activity and got involved both formally and informally. RED Union Fenosa has an official workplace policy; Ionel Joint-Stock Company, Artima, Cupcini-Zahar and Franzeluta Joint-Stock Company have informal policies. The private sector develops mostly informal policies and the initiatives are often not contemplated in a policy document, still implementation takes place. In general, HIV/AIDS workplace prevention activities are more difficult to monitor and informal initiatives can not be documented.

3. Why the companies are reticent towards the implementation of HIV/AIDS workplace policy?

There is a series of reasons the majority of employers is reticent towards the implementation of HIV/AIDS workplace policy and especially:

  1. Frequent reticence of top managers towards education programmes aimed at staff and the lack of awareness concerning HIV/AIDS for the citizens of the Republic of Moldova;
  2. Lack of knowledge on HIV/AIDS impact on population enrolled on the labour field;
  3. Occupational safety and health of employees does not represent always a priority for employers;
  4. Existence of misconceptions that information, education and communication activities burden the daily activities of the companies and imply higher costs.

4. We have been talking about employers but what can be mentioned about employees. According to the Survey on Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices regarding HIV/AIDS among people involved in labor relations in the Republic of Moldova, developed in 2008, the knowledge coefficient of the employees is evaluated as high, being evaluated to 49%. What can you mention about the attitudes and practices?

The issue of attitudes and practices is an existent problem in our society in general. HIV/AIDS topic is not discussed at home, not approached at workplace and subjects of this type are avoided in the society. 96% of those interviewed, the sample representing 1217 employees, mentioned during the past 6 months they did not receive any HIV/AIDS education at their workplace. Therefore, lack of training and education leads to adoption of a discriminatory behaviour towards people living with HIV/AIDS. Based on survey findings every second respondent considers it is a shame to be HIV positive and 2/3 of those interviewed mentioned they would keep in secret if someone from their family were HIV positive. The level of attitudes and practices needs consolidation and improvement.

5. At the end of the project, which are the subsequently recommendations to ensure the sustainability of the HIV/AIDS workplace policies and programmes?

HIV/AIDS workplace policies and programmes are going to be implemented both in the public and private sector. At legislative level, the provisions on implementing a HIV/AIDS workplace policy will be reflected in the new National AIDS Programme for 2011–2015. At institutional level there is the State Labour Inspection which would represent a resource centre and training opportunities for employees and institutionalization would be carried out through the mentioned institution. Global Compact Network would represent a first forum of experience exchange between economic entities as well as acknowledgement of the RED Union Fenosa experience, which carries out HIV/AIDS workplace prevention activities and has a formal policy. The most important moment is the awareness of HIV infection impact at workplace and the need to ensure training opportunities for employees.