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Romania sees increase in worker protests


As teachers enter their second week of strikes and protests in Romania, the healthcare and railway transport unions prepare for protests of their own unless the government meets their demands for increased salaries and better working conditions, according to Euractiv.

The teachers’ strike began on 22 May, and a huge protest is scheduled for Tuesday after the government came several times with the offer of bonuses instead of higher salaries – which was refused by the education unions.

The teachers are calling for President Klaus Iohannis, a former physics teacher, to step in and mediate the conflict. The protest on Tuesday will take place in front of the government building and at the Cotroceni Palace.

Railway transporters’ unions, who organized a protest on Monday, also demand better wages and working conditions.

According to the Health Solidarity Federation, health employees plan to hold a protest rally on 8 June and – if necessary – a general strike on 1 July.

The representatives of the Federation request decent working conditions and implementation of the salary bill agreed upon with the Ministry of Health, which would lead to the improvement of all employees’ situations in the public health sector, starting with nurses, and the possibility of an effective and relevant increase in income for health workers. 

On Monday, education unions were given a sign of hope as Labor Minister Marius Budai announced the first sign of concession. ”Starting from today, we will discuss the proposals put forward by the education representatives, which will be included in the upcoming salary law”, said Budai, noting that there are also needed discussions with the World Bank and the European Commission.

The union’s main demands include a 25% increase in incomes and setting the salary for new entries equivalent to the average gross wage, Marius Nistor, the president of the Federation of Education Unions, Marius Nistor, said on Monday.

Asked if there is money for salary increases, the Labor Minister said that ”the most fair option” for everyone must be reached.

The National Council of Students sent a letter to Prime Minister Nicolae Ciucă and Education Minister Ligia Deca, urging them to solve ”all the teachers’ proposals as urgently as possible”.

They expressed concerns about the potential impact on the final exams, but the Education Minister assured them that the school year would be extended if the strike continued. ”All exams will take place even if it means extending the school year.”