Over 30,000 people are currently protesting in front of the Parliament Palace where the no confidence vote is under debate. There have been also some incidents between the protesters and the gendarmerie force. Union protesters urged Parliamentarians to vote for the fall of the Government, or else, they will not come out of parliament. The protesters are watching what happens in Parliament on two large screens placed in the Constitution Square, according to Mediafax newswire.
The trade unions started their march from the Victoriei Square towards the parliament headed by leaders of the Social Democrat Party, including Victor Ponta (current PSD president) and Marian Vanghelie (Bucharest sector 5 mayor), one of the main opposition parties of PDL (the Democrat Liberal Party), which is currently the ruling party.
UPDATE: Social protests to reach climax on no- confidence vote day
About 20,000 people have already gathered in Victoriei Square and more are expected to arrive in the next hour, according to representatives of the Romanian Gendarmerie cited by Mediafax newswire. Protesters will stay in front of Palatul Victoriei for approximately an hour. Starting with 11:00 they will march towards the headquarters of the Romanian Parliament to wait for the result of the non-confidence vote.
Union leaders say that approximately 100,000 people will join the protest.
Over the past months Victoriei Square as well as the headquarters of many ministries have become the scene of numerous social protests. From teachers to doctors, policemen and lately employees of the Ministry of Finance public workers have expressed their discontent for the wage cuts, planned layoffs, the lack of investments and the public sector unitary wage law.
If passed, the latter will set an equitable framework for public wages for the coming year, the Government says. Unionists on the other hand, call it illegal as is built upon the 25 percent wage cut which should have expired at the end of the year.
At the end of September, President Traian Basescu explained that the worst of the economic recession is over but the peak of the social crisis is yet to come. More recently, the President said that layoffs of public workers must continue in order to reach the 70,000 target. He explained that 27,000 public workers have been sacked until August. “We can no longer afford to pay salaries worth RON 43 billion but only RON 39 billion”, Basescu added. Considering the unitary wage bill, Basescu thinks it will not be passed by the Parliament and the Government will most likely seek a confidence vote for its adoption.
The President also said that he foresees even more ample protests in the next period. “It’s the way in which the public sector reacts to reform. We have anticipated this”. The largest protest is expected to take place this Wednesday when union leaders say that over 80,000 people will protest in Bucharest as the Government faces a no-confidence vote in Parliament.
Romania implemented a series of austerity measures this summer, which included a 25 percent wage cut in the public sector, in order to reach the 4.4 percent budget deficit target agreed upon with the IMF under its EUR 20 billion aid package agreement.
The country has currently approximately 1.3 million public workers which means that roughly one out of three Romanians is employed by the state. In spite of this generous percentage the quality of public services is often debated. Romania has an average of 1.9 doctors for 1,000 inhabitants, half the European average, and also one of the lowest tax collecting percentages with a share of only 28 percent out of the GDP.