Protesting subway workers on Friday occupied tracks in a key station, blocking trains from running and disrupting public transport in the Romanian capital.
The prime minister and transport minister called the action illegal. Bucharest mayor Nicusor Dan said he’d ordered extra buses and trams to take commuters who were unable to use the subway.
Members of the subway trade union which staged the protest are in a conflict with management of subway company Metrorex.
They sat on the tracks at the Unirii Square station, the subway’s main junction, and shouted: „Long live freedom! Long live the union!”
The company said it would shut down underground kiosks by April 2 because they were a fire hazard.
A total of 80% of the lucrative kiosks and other commercial spaces are owned by the subway trade union USLM.
„Although unionists implied they have a list of demands, repeated invitations to meet with the company’s management were completely ignored during the night,” Metrorex said in a statement.
„Illegal action is disrupting life for an entire city. When Mafia interests are threatened, a handful of people take action to preserve privileges and (advantages),.” Transport Minister Catalin Drula said.
„Don’t be fooled: the stakes of illegally occupying subway tracks has nothing to do with the employees’ interests,” he added. “What is at stake is the…. business of renting commercial spaces.”
Prime Minister Florin Citu called the strike illegal and said that the union didn’t want to lose lucrative business.
The subway underpins public transport in the Romanian capital, helping to ease the notorious traffic in the city of more than 2 million.
It is currently struggling to contain a fresh wave of coronavirus infections.
Before the pandemic, there were about 700,000 passenger trips on an average weekday.