“Rather than make this banner, I’d rather prepare a lesson. I can’t afford to go on strike and not get paid. But I can’t afford to not strike in the long term either.”
These are the slogans held up by a teacher on strike for almost a month, showing the dilemmas faced by frontline workers in the Romanian education system.
The majority of teachers are so underpaid they are forced to take second or third jobs. Often, they work as a maths or biology teacher in the morning, and deliver food on a bicycle in the afternoon. That is why the biggest teachers’ strike in 20 years, which involved 300,000 people, kicked off in May. The strike was halted in mid-June, when the government partially accepted the demands.
Prison workers have also stopped work for higher pay, and health workers have gone on a Japanese strike in recent days, wearing a white stripe as a sign of protest.