Romania plans to strike over pay

September 24, 2004

Academics at universities in Romania are threatening to strike over pay from the beginning of the new academic year if the Government fails to agree to a 100 per cent pay increase effective immediately.

Plans have been drawn up for a nationwide demonstration on October 5, but professors have agreed to boycott classes from the start of the term on October 1 if talks with the Government are not successful.

The move will affect about 500,000 students who attend universities across the country.

Razvan Bobulescu, head of the lecturers' trade union, said: "We will definitely boycott the opening of the academic year by staying away from our posts unless the Government revises its proposed pay increases.

"A strike has been planned for October 5 when we will also take to the streets in protest."

Professors say the proposed salary increases of 18 per cent before tax are "laughable". Mr Bobulescu said: "In some cases this means a rise of just 484,700 leu [£8] a month. It's a joke."

Most lecturers earn less than 5 million leu a month even after 15 years in the job - in a country that is set to join the European Union in less than three years. Trade unionists claim the Government is side-stepping real pay rises as the increments offered are already guaranteed as part of a statutory minimum wage increase for all civil servants.

Mr Bobulescu said: "These pay increases will be applied to all state employees. The Government is throwing sand in our faces with rises that were planned to be given anyway in accordance with new laws."

Alexandru Athanasiu, Education Minister, said the Government would not back down, and added that it simply could not afford to spend more.

"It will already mean an extra 163 billion leu (£2.7 million) coming out of the monthly budget, and it is the only and last offer we will make," she said.

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