Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Romanian subway workers on strike for higher pay16 hours ago

(AP:BUCHAREST, Romania) Subway workers in Romania's capital staged a nine-hour strike on Tuesday to demand a 20 percent pay rise, causing traffic havoc in parts of the capital.

The strike is the second in a week and affected an estimated 300,000 of the 700,000 passengers who use the 49-station system daily. Streetcars and buses were packed, while car traffic slowed almost to a halt in parts of Bucharest.

Union leader Ion Radoi said Bucharest subway workers should have higher wages because the state company made a profit last year.

President Traian Basescu criticized the decision to strike five days before presidential elections, saying it was politically motivated to hurt Transportation Minister Radu Berceanu _ one of the president's allies.

"They are mocking the passengers who use the subway every day," said Basescu, who is running for a second five-year term in the Nov. 22 ballot.

The union said workers would strike again on Wednesday if their demands are not met.

Transportation Ministry officials failed in talks with union representatives Monday to resolve the impasse union's demands.

Romania is in a deep recession with the economy expected to contract more than 8 percent this year.

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