Representatives from three national education unions protested Tuesday in front of the headquarters of the Romanian government in Bucharest against a planned wage freeze for civil servants and planned layoffs in the public sector.
Several dozen “delegates from among the representatives of the interests” stood in a symbolic “strike guard” in front of the government headquarters. A massive rally is planned for May 10, and they have begun collecting signatures to announce a virtual halt to work across the country unless the government stops saving on teachers who are already dissatisfied with their salaries.
“This strike was meant to be a wake up call for decision makers and we will be here tomorrow to warn them that the good weather and promise time is over, we are waiting for action. Within the framework of the “Erudimentary Romania” project, they committed to treating the education system as a national priority! We don’t want to get to the point where we soon have to talk about a “failed Romania” because of bad decisions or lack of them.” union leader said Marius Nistor.
Delegates from human rights groups filed a petition with the government on Tuesday demanding, among other things, the payment of higher wages under the 2017 Civil Service Wages Act. They warned decision makers about the ban on the accumulation of state salaries and pensions, the planned wage freeze. They believe that these measures will put the education system in a crisis situation, which is already malfunctioning due to a lack of qualified workers.
At the same time, unions reaffirmed their expectation that the new civil service pay law being drafted would place teachers in a much higher pay class than the current one, reflecting their social importance.
Educators’ unions are also demanding that legislation establish a requirement for automatic salary increases for civil servants in line with inflation.
In Romania, the government is forced to implement austerity measures due to lower budget revenues than planned. In the first quarter, government revenues were one billion euros less than planned, according to the tax authority, which would have increased the already high state budget deficit (planned at 4.4% of GDP) by four billion euros throughout the year.