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Romania: Energy Workers Demand Higher Wages

Bucharest, 21 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - Some 5,000 energy workers from across Romania yesterday gathered in front of the Senate building in the capital Bucharest in the first labor protest since November general elections.

The workers shouted "Down with the government" and demanded to renegotiate their labour contracts in a bid to raise their salaries. They also warned the government of reformist Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea to be cautious in restructuring the energy sector. Workers fear that restructuring and privatization would lead to massive layoffs.

Launching his radical reform program earlier this year, Ciorbea warned that the government will either privatize or shut down some 3,600 state-owned companies by year's end. He also said that 100,000 Romanians will be laid off this year but insisted the painful reforms were necessary to ultimately improve living standards.