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Romania Hit by Strikes by Teachers, Health Workers and Police

Striking teachers, healthcare workers and police officers demonstrated in the cities of Bucharest and Cluj on Thursday, calling for higher salaries and better working conditions.

Healthcare employees began their strike on Thursday and around 2,500 of them marched from the government headquarters to the parliament building in Bucharest.

Their main grievances relate to the poor salaries paid to nurses and auxiliary staff, which range from 2,500 to 3,000 lei (500 to 600 euros).

They are also aggrieved at the freeze on new employment in the healthcare sector after the adoption of austerity measures by the government last month.

“The staff deficit [because of the employment freeze] poses a huge problem. We cannot cover the extra hours,” one of the protesters told the G4Media.ro news website.

Romanian healthcare workers are protest in front of the government bundling in Bucharest. Photo: Health Solidarity Federation Romania/Facebook 

Union leaders argue that auxiliary staff should get salary increases, as doctors and nurses have done.

Employees from over 400 healthcare facilities throughout Romania also began a protest action on Thursday, wearing white armbands at work as a symbol of discontent.

Health Minister Alexandru Rafila said on Wednesday that the authorities are trying to find solutions to avert a general strike in the healthcare sector.

Romanian professors march through the streets of Bucharest. Photo: Federation of Spiru Haret Education Trade Unions/Facebook 

Teachers who have been striking for three weeks already staged protests in Bucharest and Cluj.

Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca asked the teachers on Thursday to stop the strike, saying that a pay rise is on its way as soon as a memorandum on the salary legislation is published in the Official Gazette.

“We all support the transformation and modernisation of education because it is the only way to ensure our children’s and this country’s future,” Ciuca said.

“Today we approved this public policy decision, this memorandum, and I am convinced that once it is published, our teachers will understand the seriousness of our commitment and decide to return to classes,” he added.

Romanian professors demand higher salaries and better working conditions. Photo: Federation of Spiru Haret Education Trade Unions/Facebook 

Striking union members from the police force and the prison service also protested in front of the European Commission Representation in Bucharest on Thursday.

The police unions said they are concerned about the “unprecedented shortage of personnel in the Interior Ministry, when, for the first time, at police training schools, after the knowledge verification stage, there were 0.57 candidates per place”.

A Romanian policeman (L) blows a plastic trumpet while another plays a drum during a protest rally held in front of the parliament building in Bucharest. Photo: EPA-EFE/Robert Ghent

They also argue that the medical examinations to see if potential officers are physically and mentally prepared for the job will further reduce the number of candidates for police training schools.

Source: Balkan Insight