(Bloomberg) -- Thousands of teachers took to the streets of Romania’s capital as the biggest education strike in almost two decades approached its third week and the government struggled to reach a deal with union negotiators.
Some 10,000 people joined the demonstration in central Bucharest Friday to demand a pay hike and better working conditions, according to local media. It was the third such gathering since the teachers’ strike began May 22.
“In the past two weeks we’ve only seen a biased approach from the government,” Marius Nistor, a leading union negotiator, told news website News.ro. “This hasn’t done anything but undermine their credibility.”
Workers across Europe have responded to a cost-of-living crisis with higher wage demands, with public-sector action targeting areas ranging from the UK’s health system to Germany’s transportation network. Economists have kept a close eye on how wage deals feed into inflation.
Romania’s strike has pushed off a long-planned handover of power in the governing coalition. Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca had been scheduled to swap his office with Marcel Ciolacu, the leader of Romania’s Social Democrats, in late May. The current premier said two weeks ago the move should happen “in a short time.”
Read More: Europe’s Era of Agitation Heralds More Clashes on Spoils of Work
Ciuca planned to meet union leaders again Friday to discuss demands to tie wages to the Black Sea nation’s average monthly income for new teachers — or about 4,300 lei ($933), as well as other increases.
Romania’s government is under pressure to deliver the new spending even as it set a deficit target of 4.4% of economic output this year. The eastern European Union member state aims to narrow that figure to the bloc’s benchmark limit of 3% in 2024.
Social pressures may not end with an agreement with teachers. Health care workers also staged a protest this week to demand higher wages, more personnel and improved working conditions.
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