Romanian finance ministry workers protest pay cuts

* 4,000 finance ministry staff walk out, action spreads

*Not seen swaying government policy

BUCHAREST, Oct 14 (BestGrowthStock) – Thousands of Romanian finance
ministry workers have stopped work to protest against bonus
cuts, a sign of growing popular opposition to the government’s
IMF-mandated austerity drive.

Local media said about 4,000 workers from the finance
ministry, employment offices and city halls in Bucharest and
other cities had joined the protest launched on Wednesday.

But analysts said it was unlikely to affect government
policy, at least in the short term.

Romania, the European Union’s second-poorest member and
suffering from recession, has taken tough steps including a 25
percent cut in state wages to stick within stringent
International Monetary Fund terms for a 20 billion euro bailout.

The protest started when about 200 employees in the finance
ministry’s headquarters refused to go to work, queueing in front
of minister Gheorghe Ialomitianu’s office, booing and barring
him from leaving the building until late evening under police
escort.

“Such actions do not bode well for the outlook of fiscal
performance as they may influence revenue collection,” said ING
Bank economist Vlad Muscalu.

Most of the clerks spent the night at work and pledged to
continue their protest until Ialomitianu ordered that scrapped
bonuses and other incentives get paid.

“This conflict is growing rapidly and unionists cannot
control it anymore. We will continue until we receive decent
salaries,” Sebastian Oprescu, of the civil servants’ national
union, was quoted as saying by state news agency Agerpres.

Romania’s Realitatea TV reported that regional units which
collect taxes had yet to join the protest but that if they did
so, state coffers might suffer because of an inability to cash
in value added tax due by Oct. 25.

Romanian finance ministry workers protest pay cuts