Romanian teachers on nationwide strike for better pay

More than 150,000 teachers in Romania went on a strike on Monday demanding higher salaries as the governing coalition parties prepare to replace Nicolae Ciuca, from the National Liberal Party, PNL, as Prime Minister with Marcel Ciolacu, leader of the Social Democratic Party, PSD, reports Balkan Insight.

The government is under pressure to bring its fiscal deficit below the European Union’s threshold of 3% of gross domestic product by next year.

Teachers will be joined in the strike by non-teaching staff from schools. This is the third large-scale strike in Romanian education in the last 30 years.

The strike was triggered after the unions and Prime Minister Ciuca failed to reach a compromise on Sunday evening after two rounds of negotiations. The government said it has offered trade unions financial incentives for beginners and for tenured teaching staff from academic units located in disadvantaged areas, but also pay increases for non-teaching staff. But the proposals were deemed insufficient by trade unions.

Prime Minister Ciuca said the only people who will have something to lose if the strike takes place are parents and students, who will be in a complicated situation from Monday.

„Even if there are good intentions, we are only discussing intentions; we are talking about the future wage law, which will start to be negotiated only from July 15”, stated Marius Nistor, President of Spiru Haret Education Union.

„The wage law may be adopted at the end of October or 2023, as applicable from January 1, 2024. However, this is still not known, because there has been no clear answer [from the government] if a certain salary scale will be discussed”, added Nistor.

A beginner teacher in Romania earns around 2,400 lei [about 500 euros] a month, which is below the average salary. Currently, average wages in education in Romania are just over 4,000 lei net [over 800 euros], which is about 6 per cent lower than the net average wage, which is 4,254 lei [about 850 euros.]

Unions have asked for salary increases, inflation indexing, overtime pay and investment to boost infrastructure and teaching supplies.

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