20,000 Romanian public workers protest wage cuts

Some 20,000 public workers today gathered in the Romanian capital to protest planned government wage cuts meant to shore up the country’s ailing economy.

Public workers, teachers, doctors and retirees protested outside the government offices in downtown Bucharest. The two-hour protest blocked traffic in the city center.

Unions have rejected the government’s plan to slash public wages by one-fourth and pensions by 15 percent. Workers said they feared the government would hike taxes and consumer taxes in the fall.

The government said the measures are necessary to reduce the budget deficit. Romania’s average wage is about euro450 ($575) a month, and unemployment may grow to one million this year in this nation of 22 million the International Monetary Fund said.

Romania took a euro20 billion ($24.86 billion) loan from the IMF, the EU and the World Bank last year to pay state wages when its economy shrunk by 7.1 percent.

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