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Europe

Romanian workers end strike over pay cuts

Thousands of striking Romanian tax employees have promised to go back to work, after the finance minister promised to restore bonuses cut by government austerity measures.

protesters in Romania

Romania's finance minister was temporarily trapped in his office

Romanian public servants called off a spontaneous two-day strike on Thursday after the finance minister promised to reintroduce a system of bonuses and incentives.

"We have reached a common conclusion with the trade unions on paying bonuses to civil servants on the basis of an analysis conducted by a joint commission," Finance Minister Gheorghe Ialomitianu said.

The protest started on Wednesday when about 200 employees in the finance ministry's headquarters refused to go to work and lined up in front of Minister Gheorghe Ialomitianu's office. Ialomitianu was barricaded in his office until police arrived to escort from the building.

The strike spread on Thursday as tax offices and employment agencies in most cities were closed as thousands of civil servants demonstrated in the streets to demand a living wage.

Action spreads

Palace of the Parliament in Bucharest

Romania is the second-poorest member of the EU

About 4000 workers walked off their job to protest against bonus cuts, which often constitute half an employees wage. The cuts were part of government's austerity measures necessary to maintain the terms of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.

Despite suffering from a recession, Romania has taken drastic measures in order to keep the terms of 20 billion euro ($28 billion) IMF bailout on which it is dependent. Over the summer, the government cut all civil servants' salaries by a quarter and raised the rate of value-added tax from 19 to 24 percent.

Author: Sarah Harman (dpa, Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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