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Romania: Workers Protest Government Policies

Bucharest, 15 May 1997 (RFE/RL) - Thousands of workers from across Romania converged on the capital Bucharest today to protest government policies which they say are driving down living standards.

The demonstrators filed past the government building in downtown Bucharest. They called the government of Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea a group of "liars" and "thieves" as anti-riot troops and police looked on. No violence was reported.

The 2.5 million member CNSLR-Fratia Union, which organized today's march, promised further action until the government issues what it deems a reasonable welfare program.

Romania's center-right government defeated the reform communists in elections last year on promises to cut taxes and improve welfare. But so far, its policies have liberalized prices and tightened the money supply in a bid to tame inflation.

Critics say those policies may please international financial bodies, but they have resulted in a huge drop in purchasing power for average Romanians. Furthermore, Ciorbea has promised to reorganize or privatize 3,600 state companies by the end of the year. Observers say at least 100,000 jobs will be lost in the process.