Romania: educators' wages must be increased

published 22 May 2023 updated 2 June 2023

Unhappy with their wages, which they consider humiliating, Romanian educators have mobilised for an indefinite all-out strike to demand better pay for their work and recognition of its social importance.

All-out strike

After a two-hour warning strike on May 17, more than 150,000 Romanian teachers and education support staff joined the May 22 all-out strike called by trade unions affiliated to EI member organizations – the Federația sindicatelor libere din învățământ - FSLI (Federation of Independent Professional Unions in the Education Sector) and the Federația Sindicatelor din Educație “Spiru Haret” - FSE Spiru Haret (Spiru Haret Federation of Professional Trade Unions in the Education Sector).

This decision was taken following a ballot in which 70% of teachers voted for this all-out strike.

They believe a teacher’s starting salary should be at least on a level with the average gross salary. The wages of all teaching staff should then be calculated on a sliding scale based on this and depending on the position held and their education, experience and teaching qualifications.

Education trade unionists are also calling for their wages to be indexed-linked to the annual rate of inflation.

In addition, there is a demand for payment for overtime already worked by auxiliary teaching and non-teaching staff and the granting of different bonuses to which they are entitled, including those for working conditions and reimbursement for travel to work, the granting of additional leave, and financial compensation for leave not taken.

Finally, teachers are calling for an annual increase in investment in education, including school infrastructure.

Demonstrations by education trade unionists began in December 2022 and continued in January, February, March and April, culminating in a March in Bucharest on May 10th involving 15,000 people.

They also regret that the government has failed to react, accusing it of not keeping promises it has made.

For them, humiliating wages, collapsing purchasing power, and anomalies in remuneration for those in management posts are just some of the problems facing workers in education.

In this context, union leaders have admitted that there is a risk that national exams will be disrupted, and they stress that a resolution of the situation depends on the decisions taken by the Romanian Executive and Parliament.

Government promises

For her part, the Minister of Education, Ligia Deca, has already determined the composition of the negotiating team for the collective labour agreement and declared she is convinced solutions will be found to remedy the situation.

She promised to fight both for decent salaries for teachers and for the school year to continue under the best possible conditions so it can be completed on schedule.

“Go public! Fund Education!” campaign

These demands by the Romanian teaching trade unionists are in line with the EI Go Public! Fund Education! campaign. This is an urgent call to governments to invest in public education – a fundamental human right and public good – and to invest more in teachers, who are the most important factor in achieving quality education.