Romanian civil servants walk off jobs

Romanian civil servants walk off jobsBucharest  - Some 100,000 Romanian civil servants walked off the job Thursday to press for 50 per cent higher pay, the latest sign of wage pressures in the new European Union nation.

The two-hour "warning strike" came after Romania's parliament, facing elections on November 28, recently voted a 50-per-cent raise for teachers. Health-care workers are demanding 60 per cent more pay.

Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu's government has challenged the teachers' pay hike in the country's constitutional court, saying lawmakers failed to appropriate extra funding for the measure.

Tariceanu fears that ballooning public spending will hurt Romania's economy, which grew at an annual pace of 9.3 per cent in the second quarter - the highest in the 27-member EU.

An International Monetary Fund report Wednesday warned Romania and other south-east European nations to rein in public spending and "raise the efficiency of the public sector."

Romania's expansion will slow to an average of 4.8 per cent next year from an expected 8.6 per cent this year, IMF analysts forecast.

Low wages have helped Romania, an ex-communist nation that joined the EU in 2007, attract a stream of investment, notably in the auto industry.

Demands for higher wages, fuelled in part by high inflation, have sparked several strikes this year, including a walkout at Renault SA's Dacia plant, maker of the budget-priced Logan compact car. (dpa)