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Summer of protests? Education sector trade unions announce “large protest march in Bucharest”

On Monday, at the last round of negotiations with the Labour Ministry, public education sector trade unions failed to obtain the salary hikes desired. Thus, it is very likely that a large protest march will take place in Bucharest on June 1, trade union representatives announced. Around 15,000 trade union members, parents and pupils are expected to take part in the protest march, set to take place on the Victoriei Square – Presidential Palace route.

At Monday’s talks on the draft emergency ordinance on eliminating salary inequities in the public sector, the Government came up with a new variant, which failed to satisfy the teachers, Simion Hancescu, leader of the Free Trade Unions Federation, stated.

“The Labour Ministry has proposed a 5 percent salary hike starting on August 1, but the second percentage is uncertain, it’s uncertain what will happen next, in 2017. It seems the Government plans to offer us another 5 percent starting on 1 December 2017,” Simion Hancescu stated.

“We will forward this offer to our colleagues nationwide. As things stand, Wednesday’s protest will probably take place. It’s highly unlikely for it to be postponed,” he added.

In many cases, the salaries will grow by just RON 10-13, in other words the salary hike will not even be felt, Alma Mater President Anton Hadar explained.

“There is 5 percent for corrections, as I was saying. It’s not a salary hike, so on new corrections others could register salary hikes and sometimes they’re salary hikes on the order of RON 7 or RON 10,” Anton Hadar stated.

Marius Nistor, President of the ‘Spiru Haret’ Union Federation, stated in his turn that one cannot talk about a failure of negotiations considering that on Monday the Government came up with a variant other than the one presented on Saturday.

“We will inform our colleagues and they are the only ones in the position to decide whether this variant presented today is accepted or whether they will ask for an entirely different thing, an improved variant,” Nistor said.

He added that all that is happening “is a consequence of the current Government’s actions,” which “has the duty to correct this situation.”

The trade unions’ pressures come against the backdrop in which the registrations for the Baccalaureate examination, scheduled on June 13, started on Monday and the trade unions’ protests could perturb the national examination.

“There are already signs that teachers no longer want to be part of the [Baccalaureate] commissions. You should know it would only take several hundreds of them. Two, three hundred teachers to say that they won’t take part in the Baccalaureate and the examination would enter a tailspin. We don’t want this. But we feel this Government is mocking us,” Simion Hanescu stated for news.ro.

The Government recently organised several meetings with public education trade unions that are dissatisfied that the public education sector did not benefit from the same attention and salary hikes as those offered within the public health sector. The Government said that it only has RON 200 M at its disposal for the education sector, while the implementation of an average 10 percent salary hike would require funds of RON 1 bln annually.

National Union Bloc (BNS) trade union members protested outside the Presidential Palace on Monday too, dissatisfied with the labour legislation (mass layoffs, social dialogue, Labour Code, trade unions).

According to the protests’ timetable, farmers will take to the streets today, dissatisfied with the delays registered in the launching of European grants and in the payment of subsidies. Auto industry and transportation trade union members will picket the Government Palace on Thursday. At the end of the week, energy sector trade union members will also picket the Government and Presidency.

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