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Metro Labor Dispute Continues

BUCHAREST, March 14 (RFE/RL) - Striking Romanian metro workers have rejected a claim by the government that the strike is virtually over, and that about two-thirds of the strikers have agreed to return to work. The nearly two-week strike has crippled transportation in Bucharest, where hundreds of thousands of people usually ride the metro daily.

As labor tension has spread recently across Romania, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu took a hard-line approach to the metro strike, threatening to fire striking workers, and labeling the strike over wages and working conditions a threat to national security.

Our Bucharest correspondent cites labor leaders as saying only about 1,500 of the estimated 6,000 workers on strike have agreed to return to work. Labor leaders again issued a call for support from other labor groups, and for renewed negotiations with the government.

The chairman of Romania's Senate, Oliviu Gherman, held talks with strike leaders yesterday. Our correspondent reports that on the recommendation of Gherman, Prime Minister Vacaroiu then also held talks with the strikers.