Striking Romanian teachers march on government

Reuters, 10 February 2000, 12:19:00 ET

BUCHAREST, Feb 10 (Reuters)—Thousands of Romanian teachers marched on government headquarters in Bucharest on Thursday, the fourth day of their second nationwide pay strike this year.

“Thieves,” “We don’t give in” and “Romanian schools want to live,” shouted some 15,000 protesters.

Most of Romania's 400,000 teachers, who staged a one-week strike last month, are demanding a basic monthly wage of 1.5 million lei ($81), from the present 664,000 lei, and bonuses for 1999.

The strikers say they will not complete the curriculum for this academic year and will not give students graduation marks unless their demands are met.

They are urging the government to allocate a minimum of four percent of gross domestic product to the education sector.

“We ask the government to stop playing with public funds and despising the teachers,” said Aurel Cornea, leader of one of the teachers' four trade unions.

In December, Education Minister Andrei Marga tendered his resignation, in a move to put pressure on the centrist coalition cabinet to allocate higher funds for the education sector in the draft of the 2000 state budget. The cabinet is expected to approve the draft this week.