World

Romanian workers protest low wages

Romanian workers took to the streets on Wednesday in the second protest in three days over low wages.

Romanian workers took to the streets on Wednesday in the second protest in three days over low wages.

Trade unions said they expected about 20,000 workers to take part in the three-hour rally in the capital, Bucharest.

The protest comes after hundreds of thousands of public sector workers staged a one-day strike on Monday to put pressure on the country's minority government before a November presidential election.

Romania is mired in a deep recession and is dependent on a $21.4 billion Cdn loan from the International Monetary Fund secured in March to pay some public sector wages.

Fellow European Union members Hungary and Latvia have also received rescue loans from the IMF this year.

Unions want a minimum monthly salary of 650 lei ($237 Cdn) in 2010 and want the government to scrap a plan to force workers to take 10 unpaid vacation days a year.

No-confidence votes expected

The country is also facing political instability after the coalition government collapsed last week when the Social Democrats quit the government. On Tuesday the government, headed by centrist Prime Minister Emil Boc, called for a parliamentary vote of confidence on a pension reform bill. Boc's party also faces a separate confidence motion filed by the opposition.

The pension bill would raise the retirement age to 65 by 2030 and is a reform Romania needs to adopt to secure further funding from the IMF. The current retirement ages are 63 for men and 58 for women.

President Traian Basescu said this weekend the path out of recession for Romania is unclear and will require outside aid.

"Neither the government, myself nor the central bank can get Romania out of this crisis, because it's not possible," he said.

"It's a global crisis and Romania is dependent on what happens globally."

With files from The Associated Press

now