Teachers, railway workers, the police, everyone is unhappy in Romania.
Frustration and anger seem to dominate Romanian society, and the government's social and salary policies are making more and more people take to the street. The Federation of Rail Carriers' Trade Unions on Monday staged a protest rally outside the Bucharest headquarters of the transport ministry. The organisers demand the approval of the income and expenses budget of the Romanian rail company's passengers and infrastructure divisions, as well as the application of the rail workers' statute. They are also complaining about the growing deterioration of labour conditions and the lack of motivating salaries and demand investments in the rail infrastructure and pay rises of almost 40% depending on certain coefficients. Unless their demands are met by the ruling coalition made up of the Social Democratic Party, the National Liberal Party and the Democratic Union of Ethnic Hungarians in Romania, Romanian rail workers will go on strike, their trade union leaders are warning. This will be the biggest work stoppage of all time, one trade union leader, Rodrigo Maxim, is quoted as saying. Transport minister Sorin Grindeanu has agreed that the salaries of railway workers must increase in keeping with the law, saying the government is trying to find a solution in the budget.
Unhappy with their working conditions and salaries, healthcare workers also recently said they might stop working and police workers requested the right to strike, which is currently denied to them under the law. In sign of protest, prison workers are wearing white armbands and a temporary 2-hour stoppage of work and a prison lock-in were announced for Wednesday. Prison workers' trade unions are opposed to the government's planned increase in the retirement age to 65, saying the life expectancy of the employees in this sector is 62.
The teachers' strike entered its second week on Monday. The government says it doesn't have the money to raise their salaries but has proposed to grant teaching and non-teaching staff the equivalent of some 800 euros in two payments. A new protest was scheduled for Tuesday in Bucharest, in front of the presidential palace. Before going into politics, president Klaus Iohannis was himself a teacher and protesters are hoping to find some empathy there. Moreover, the media note that under the Constitution, the president of the country must serve as a mediator in society and is therefore obliged to intervene at this time of acute crisis, when this year's high school graduates still don't know if they can take their baccalaureate exams. (CM)