Protesters in Bucharest Demand Job Security

May 15, 2009
Unhappy with salary freeze

Several thousand Romanians protested May 14 in Bucharest's city center, demanding job security and a "concrete action plan against the economic crisis," AFP witnessed.

Workers from the energy and car manufacturing sectors, as well as harbor and post office employees marched in front of government buildings and the economy ministry, chanting slogans like "Thieves" and "Shame on You."

"The resources are there, what is missing is the political will," Dumitru Costin, president of the National Syndicate Bloc (BNS), which organized the protest on May 14.

The BNS was to propose a plan to create 100,000 jobs, especially in the rural sector, and keep up health and education reforms, Costin added. "The situation is getting more and more difficult: salaries are staying the same, while prices are increasing," noted a seaman from Constanta in southeastern Romania, who was also taking part in the protest.

The average monthly salary in the country is currently about 335 euros. The government decided to freeze salaries in the public sector and reduce expenses in 2009, in the wake of the global economic crisis, which has hit Romania especially hard.

"How are you supposed to get by with a salary of just 600 lei (US$195) per month? It's hell," he added.

Bucharest has also predicted a sharp rise in unemployment to 8% by late 2009, from 4.4% in 2008.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2009

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