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Thousands of Romanian teachers protest low wages

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
People march during a teachers' protest over wages, in Bucharest, Romania, on June 9, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

Thousands of Romanian teachers have poured into the streets of the capital Bucharest to demand higher salaries and better working conditions, as a third week of general strikes came to an end.

An estimated 10,000 protester gathered in front of government headquarters in central Bucharest on Friday, to denounce low wages while carrying banners against the government's economic policies.

Teachers in Romania have been on strike since May – their first since 2005-- with thousands chanting "Dignity", "We dare" and "We won't give in."

The trade unions have been asking for a 25-percent increase in teachers’ salaries, as well as overtime pay, inflation indexing and more supplies. 

The unions have also demanded that new teachers' wages, which are currently 2,400 lei ($521.65) per month, be increased to at least the national average net monthly pay in Romania.

Several rounds of negotiations between unions and the government have so far failed, with the latest offer being a wage hike of 1000 lei ($217.35) in June, and a bonus of 1,500 lei per year in October.

The government has also allocated a little over three percent of GDP for the education sector this year, even though it has previously vowed to boost spending to six percent of GDP.

Like many other European countries, Romania has been struck by several anti-government protests -- though on a much smaller scale -- amid annual inflation recently hovering around 10 percent.

Romania's teachers in particular have been struggling with a severe cost-of-living crisis as their wages are far lower than the national average.

Teachers unions announced that the strike action would continue.

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