40,000 Romanian workers took to the streets to protest against proposed wage cut, with union leaders threatening a general strike for May 31 unless the government backs down. Emile Boc, the country’s Prime Minister, has called the cuts (which aim to cut public sector pensions by 15% and public sector wages by 25%) “the only viable solution for the country’s future.” The IMF predicts that Romania’s current number of unemployed workers (750,000) could rise to 1,000,000 by the end of the year.
In the first May Day demonstration for over 30 years not to face attacks from the police, Turkish tobacco workers stormed the rally’s stage to disrupt the speech of a union bureaucrat they accuse of undermining and selling out there dispute. Workers employed by Tekel, formerly a state enterprise, have been fighting a months-long struggle against job cuts and casualisation (direct products of privatisation) that has seen them take on both their bosses and the conservatism of their union leaders. In January, workers established a permanent protest camp near their union headquarters that lasted for nearly two months, and have used tactics such as hunger striking during the course of their struggle.
25,000 Zimbabwean miners took one day of strike action to demand higher pay, after negotiations with their employer broke down. The lowest-paid mineworkers are currently paid just $140 per month, and the Associated Miners’ Union of Zimbabwe is demanding a levelling up to $290. According to miners’ leader Tinago Ruzive, mine magnates are refusing to comply with the stipulations of a recent industrial tribunal which requires them to increase all workers’ wages. The 25,000 striking miners represent over 60% of all miners employed in Zimbabwe.
Railway workers have secured a pay increase of at least 20% following a week-long strike. Consumer price inflation in the country has recently risen to 5.7%, and workers in several industries have begun demanding pay increases to keep up with the cost of living. The strike was extremely effective, “paralysing” the capital’s rail network according to one news source.
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