Massive Demonstration In Romania Protesting Austerity Measures

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Romania's workforce held a demonstration on Wednesday to protest the government's new austerity measures that cut jobs and wages.

The demonstration by some 20,000 people, who gathered in front of the government headquarters in capital Bucharest to protest planned government wage-cuts, was one of the largest mass protests that the Eastern European country witnessed since the fall of Communism in 1989.

Six-month-old centrist government of Prime Minister Emil Boc was forced to announce austerity measures to bolster the country's struggling economy and to meet a July deadline set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the fifth tranche of a 20 billion-euro ($25 billion) loan.

The IMF has said it will disburse its next installment of aid only after Romania enforces a credible plan to reduce its budget deficit to 6.8 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

The demonstrators, belonging to the country's five largest trade union confederations, were protesting a 25-per cent cut in public-sector wages, a 15-per cent cut in pensions and unemployment benefits, the curtailing of child and child rearing allowances by 15 per cent, and the trimming of the wages of employees of state-owned companies.

They accuse the government of laying too much burden on the low-paid employees and the poorest social categories.

They have called for a general strike later this month if their demand for a more equitable sharing of the burden of austerity measures is not met.

Hard-hit by the global recession, Romania is in dire need of the external financial assistance promised by the IMF.

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