BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Thousands of teachers marched through Bucharest on Wednesday to demand better wages and working conditions and an end to political interference in education.
Teachers whistled, blew horns and held banners during the march. Some yelled "Solidarity!" and "Without education, any nation will die!" They called upon the Romanian government to increase spending on education to 6 percent of the country's GDP, more than double the current 2.5 percent. The European Union average is about 5 percent, unions say.
Doru Vladoiu,a 64-year-old high school arts teacher who has been working for 25 years, said he earns just 1,000 lei( $304) a month.
"Without my mother's pension, she's 88, I wouldn't be able to manage on my salary." he told The Associated Press. "Without help you can't make it on your own. "
Unions are also calling for head teachers and principals to be appointed on merit and not on political criteria.
A beginning teacher has a monthly salary of 700 lei ($217), less than half Romania's average national salary. Many teachers give private lessons to supplement their income.
The protest came after doctors and health workers marched through Bucharest on Saturday, calling for more spending on Romania's ailing health care system.