Romanian Teachers' strike, the biggest in the modern history


ETUCE stands strong with its member organisations Fédération des Syndicats Libres de l'Enseignement, FSLE, Fédération des Syndicats de l’Education SPIRU-HARET, FSE "SPIRU HARET" and Federaţia Naţională Sindicală ALMA MATER, ALMA-MATER in Romania.Having started the labour conflict back in December 2022, on 12 June 2023, Romanian teachers ended a three-week general strike after their pay demands were partially met. The strike involved hundreds of thousands of education workers, many of whom participated in rallies and demonstrations throughout the country for several weeks.  

On 22 May 2023, the first general strike, in Romania’s education system in 18 years had been called out, involving 150 000 teachers and another 60 000 – 70 000 teaching and support staff, demanding a rise in salaries in education by 25%. Almost 87% of education employees had decided by referendum to start the collective labour protest and had remained on general strike for 5 weeks. The teachers’ strike was part of a surge in industrial actions in the country, with workers of healthcare, rail, public transport, and miners all engaged in some form of industrial action.

The main reason for the protests was the persistent low salaries of teachers which were low in comparison to other professions in Romania. A novice teacher in Romania took home 2 400 lei (485€) a month, not much more than half the national average monthly pay of 4 555 lei ( 920 €). The government had broken its laws imposing as much as possible the expenses in relation to the war in Ukraine and the cost of the economic crisis on the workers. From 22 May to 11 June, daily protests took place in all 42 regions of Romania.

Negotiations were tough as the government feared that workers from other industrial sectors would demand increases. From the first days of the strike, the government issued an ultimatum to the teachers. Its offer centred on the application of the 2017 law and a scheme for yearly bonuses of around 300 €Teachers reportedly rejected these ultimatums.

On 12 June 2023, education trade unions announced the suspension of the general strike and provided their proposal for a salary increase that was accepted. The main outcome of the strike is an average increase of salaries in the education sector by 25%, an increase in basic salaries for teaching staff by 1300 lei gross per month (260 €), and by 400 lei (100 €) for the non-teaching staff, as from 1 January 2024, the national education system will be established based on the average gross salary in the economy (not minimum salary in the economy as before the strike), all education staff will receive from 1 January 2024, 50% of the difference established between the basic salary in payment and the basic salary established by the salary scale in force on 1 January 2024.  

The ETUCE European Director, Susan Flocken congratulates the Romanian teachers and their education trade unions on this successful outcome “The teachers' strike in Romania has shown the power of the working class. Together, in ETUCE and the trade union movement we are strong and with dedication and commitment, we can make a difference for decent working conditions and salaries of teachers.”