Monday, November 3, 2008

Romanian teachers on one-day strike for wage rise

Monday, November 3, 2008

BUCHAREST, Romania: Teachers went on a one-day strike in Romania Monday to protest a government decision to postpone a 50-percent wage increase.

Trade unions and local media said that some 70,000 of Romania's 190,000 teachers were taking part. It was not immediately clear how many children were affected.

The government had promised teachers a 9 percent raise in October, but Parliament voted for a 50-percent raise. Critics claim the move, which led to similar demands from other public-sector workers, was designed to boost lawmakers' popularity ahead of Nov. 30 general elections.

Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu last week delayed the raise until April 1 to give Romania more time to sort out its economic problems.

Tariceanu said Monday that the wage demands were not viable in the current economic climate.

"It is unrealistic in an unprecedented global crisis to raise salaries by 50 percent," he said. He said a wave of salary increases would create unemployment in other sectors because the economy was insufficiently productive.

He rejected demands to divert funds for investment in education to salaries, saying schools needed improvements and computers.

Teachers unions have called a second strike for Nov. 18, and public sector workers say they will strike later this month over their own wage demands.

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