Protests Rise in Romania as Officials Plan to Cut Wages

May 20, 2010 Updated: May 20, 2010

Thousands of demonstrators gathered at the center of Romania’s capital in Bucharest on Wednesday to protest government plans to cut wages and pensions in the public sector.

The measures target a 25 percent salary cut for public sector workers and a 15 percent pension cut to lower the state budget deficit in order to meet the requirements of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to qualify for the next 20 million euro bailout loan.

Last year, when the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell more than 7 percent, Romanian officials requested that the IMF, the European Union, and World Bank credit them to help maintain its salary and wage obligations.

The police said 30,000 protesters gathered on the central streets, but worker’s unions said there were 50,000, according to the Associated Press.

Demonstrators promised there would be more people joining the protests, if their demands are not met, according to Reuters. The protests mark the largest movement since the Romanian Revolution against communism in 1989.

According to the IMF, the country’s budget deficit will reach more than 9 percent of GDP this year if no corrective actions are implemented.

Analysts say that following the global recession, the country’s economy has been recovering slowly, but it will get better next year if the IMF measures are forthcoming.

There is fear that the Romanian government cannot handle the situation and will bow to the public protests, because an auction of government debt earlier this month failed to attract enough investors.