Romania: teachers striking for decent pay

In Romania, tens of thousands of teachers have been on strike since Monday demanding higher wages and more investment in the education system. Entry-level teachers at public schools earn only around 480 euros a month on average. Commentators agree that that's simply not enough.

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Observator Cultural (RO) /

Unlawful underfunding

Matei Martin, editor-in-chief of the weekly Observator Cultural, has harsh words for the systematic refusal to comply with the statutory obligation to invest 6 percent of the GDP in the education sector:

“This is a colossal mistake for which no government has yet been held accountable. We have heard plenty of justifications: that Romania also has other obligations to fulfil. ... That ever new emergencies (like the health crisis) force the state to reallocate its finances. And I've even heard the theory put forward by a smug ex-minister that after years of underfunding the sudden allocation of 6 percent of the GDP would destabilise the whole system (which would mean that underfunding brings stability!).” (RO) /

The protests could spread describes how close the strike is to the very core of society:

“Many parents don't know what to do with their children right now; there are no classes at all. ... The strike affects large sections of the population. The future of children and their education are a priority and a sensitive issue for every family. The social tensions are also increased by the risk that the general strike in the education system - the first in 18 years - will spread to public servants in other sectors who are also dissatisfied with their salaries (be it in administration or healthcare).”

Libertatea (RO) /

Salary must be high enough to get by on

Teacher and journalist Costi Rogozeanu comments in Libertatea:

“I am a teacher and it doesn't bother me that I am paid as much as a cashier or significantly less than a truck driver. What bothers me is that neither I nor the cashier can make a decent living on such a salary. ... In a better world, teachers and cashiers would take to the streets together, only the latter have no unions. Cashiers work in one of the most profitable sectors, in supermarkets. The immense profits of the retail sector are not sufficiently reflected in the salaries of employees. But what point is there in comparing how poor we are?” (RO) /

Honest taxpayers can't pay more

Radu Burnete, head of the employers' association Concordia, explains the role played by corruption in

“If the money were available, wages would have been increased long ago. ... Our political class has a hard time managing such a social pact in the face of corruption and waste. On top of that, entire sectors of the economy operating in the grey or black economy receive unjustified handouts and gifts just because they are politically connected. ... So any talk of extra costs affects those who are honest with the state but find themselves in unfair competition with those who cheat with impunity or play their connections. How can they accept additional taxes?”