The Bucharest subway company Metrorex employees will start a general strike on Tuesday, November 17, because their wage raise claims were rejected. The subway will be closed for eleven hours, between 5 a.m. and 4 p.m., but will run normally from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The unionists and acting Transport Minister Radu Berceanu met, Monday morning, to find a solution that would prevent a general strike, but they failed to reach an agreement. Berceanu said he is thinking about taking the subway workers' strike to court, sustaining there is a precedent of 2005, when a similar strike was pronounced illegal after two days. According to the law, subway employees must ensure a third of regular activity even during a general strike, but in 2005, as now also, the unionists arranged their protest schedule to have all traffic halted during the busiest hours.
Union leader Ion Radoi said after the meeting that the Government suggested unionist should wait until the company's 2010 budget is approved, possibly in February next year. Also Radoi argued the state should not cut the subway company's subsidies, because this way the subway pass prices will increase about four times.
According to union leader Radoi, subway employees have an average base wage (net of bonuses, indemnities and other salary rights) of RON1.600, but he wasn't able to say how much money they actually get on average per month. At the same time, the transport minister said the average gross wage of subway workers is at RON3.600. Berceanu argued subway workers got a 23% wage raise in November 2008 and if they were to get the raise they now claim, they would have a 48% raise compared to 2008.