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Romanian Car Factory Workers Turn Down Pay Rise Offer

Darcia workers want pay rise that matches rise in cost of living

Workers on strike for higher wages at French-owned Romanian car plant Dacia since March 24 turned down management's latest pay offer on April 8, union leader Ion Iordache said.

He said the offer provided for a monthly rise of 210 lei (57 euros) backdated to January 1 and a further 90 lei (24 euros) as of September 2008, plus a one-off bonus of 1,128 lei. Iordache confirmed the workforce was still seeking a monthly increase of 550 lei (about 148 euros), to bring the average gross monthly wage up to the equivalent of 435 euros, against to 285 euros currently.

One worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said, "we want a pay rise that conforms with a rise in the cost of living as prices are European but not wages."

Iordache said a mass meeting was planned for April 10 and would almost certainly take place, even if a court in Pitesti in southern Romania ruled the strike illegal. A court ruling was expected later April 8 and Iordache predicted a possibly violent reaction if it went against the strikers. The unions would appeal, he said, while adding, "They would no longer be able to answer for the actions of the strikers."

The management had filed for an injunction by the court, accusing workers of striking before all stages of negotiations had been exhausted and "inflating" the numbers of strikers.

Mihai Acsinte, Dacia's legal executive, said the strikers' demands were based on a "conflict of interests" and not on "legal grounds".

French Renault union representatives were expected to attend the April 10 assembly and give the Romanian strikers proceeds from money they raised as a show of solidarity.

Dacia is Romania's leading carmaker. It was bought in 1999 by Renault, and achieved record sales last year of more than 230,000 vehicles in Romania and for export, a 17.4% increase compared to 2006. However the strike has cut output in recent weeks to a comparative trickle.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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