Romania Hit by Strikes

Tens of thousands of Romanian public workers went on strike Monday and Tuesday in protest over planned wage cuts. Metro stations were closed and some schools didn’t open, while state sector workers demonstrated in protest, causing significant disruption in the capital Bucharest.

Strikes were seen across the country. In Timisoara, public employees threw eggs at public buildings. Meanwhile, unions have indicated that they intend to hold further strikes.

“Starting July 5, we are considering holding a general strike, for an undetermined amount of time, if wages are slashed by a quarter,” said Ion Radoi, the leader of the Romanian Metro Union.

In addition, Romanian teachers and some public administration employees launched an indefinite pay strike.

“Let’s see a minister give up his salary and live on ours instead. Then let’s see how they manage their lives,” a 46-year-old Romanian teacher said.

Strikes on Monday caused significant disruption. Employees in the departments of health, customs and jails stopped work, while thousands of medical staff protested shortages of basic medical supplies and low salaries across the country in rallies in front of hospitals.

“Leaving the country is not an option enymore. It’s a must. We worry for tomorrow,” said Mariana Stefan, a nurse from a Bucharest hospital.

On Monday the ruling Democratic Liberal Party submitted to Parliament its plan to slash state sector wages by 25 per cent and jobless benefits and pensions by 15 per cent in an effort to reduce the budget deficit to 6.8 per cent of gross domestic product.

If the government fails to push through its plan, it could fall. The opposition Social Democratic Party has said it will submit a no-confidence motion.

Recession-hit Romania, which is relying on a €20 billion IMF-led loan, has pledged drastic public spending cuts to rein in its deficit, which this year stands at 6.8 per cent, and restart its economy, which continued to contract in the first quarter.

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