Friday, May 15, 2009

Thousands in Romania march for job security

BUCHAREST, Romania - Around 4,000 workers marched through Romania's capital on Thursday to demand better job security and higher salaries.

Unemployment in April rose 5 percent, and public spending has increased during the global economic downturn.

Romania is due to receive euro20 billion ($27.25 billion) in international loans, but unions say the government should be doing more to protect workers.

They also protested Parliament's voting against mandatory holiday bonuses. And they accused lawmakers of putting campaigning before governance, after coalition parties recently launched attacks on one another in the run-up to European Parliament elections in June and a presidential ballot later this year.

"Unemployment is growing, and the government is bickering," Union leader Vasile Zaborila told workers on Thursday.

The demonstrators, blowing whistles and beating drums, marched past government headquarters in Bucharest and yelled: "Thieves, thieves!" and "You should be ashamed."

They held banners that read: "We voted for you, and you forgot us."

The protesters work in construction, transportation, the postal service, car manufacturing and hotels, among other industries.

"They promised us that we would live well," said Nicoleta Sandu, a 42-year-old chambermaid with two children, pointing at the building where Prime Minister Emil Boc works. "They should try living on 600 lei ($200) a month."

Gheorghe Ungureanu, a water company engineer, said his colleagues were worried about possible layoffs in the future. "You can feel things are sliding in Romania," he said.

The protest was organized by the National Trade Union Bloc which has 350,000 members.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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