Between 22 May and 12 June, teachers all across Romania took on the government in a three-week general strike, principally over the issue of low salaries. This strike represented a tremendous display of militancy on the part of the Romanian working class. It has profoundly shaken the government, forcing them to make major concessions, and has acted like a jolt to the consciousness of millions of workers, demonstrating the latent power of the working class when it moves in a militant and united fashion. 

Protest 10 August

On Friday 10 August the long-awaited ‘Diaspora at Home’ rally took place, with up to 100,000 protesters gathering in front of Victoria Palace alone. The rally itself had been organised on social media for a few months by the Romanian diaspora living abroad.

The severe austerity implemented in Romania in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, carried out on the backs of working people, has spurred a period of accelerated economic growth and rising profits but it has been at the expense of the hard strapped workers of Romania. In this context the pent up anger and frustration has led to the calling of indefinite strikes in the public sector, starting today.

On Wednesday, October 27 a demonstration of 80,000 assembled in front of the Romanian parliament. Nurses, teachers, police officers, statisticians, electricity plant workers and many other civil servants converged on Bucharest from all over the country. At the same time inside the parliament the second vote of no confidence in ten months was being taken.

Last week several days running the government in Romania faced stiff opposition on the streets to its package of austerity measures. So much so that the interior minister was forced to resign, while the prime minister was also called on to resign. So tense was the situation that the police held emergency talks with the president.

Tens of thousands of public sector workers went on strike yesterday, May 31, against the government’s austerity plan, which includes cuts in pay and pensions. The austerity package, coming into effect on June 1st, will see public sector wages slashed by 25% and pensions and unemployment benefits by 15%, with the aim of reducing the budget deficit to 6.8% of GDP. All government spending will be cut by 20% and anywhere between 80,000 and 300,000 workers out of a total of 1.4 million in the state sector will be sacked.

On February 15th 1999, Miron Cozma, the leader of the Romanian miners, was tried in absentia by the Romanian Supreme Court and sentenced to 18 years of prison. Two days later he was arrested by special anti-terrorist police while leading a procession of about 5,000 followers in buses and cars from the Jiu valley to Bucharest in protest against the sentence of the Supreme Court. The miners' protest was violently broken up by a force of 1,000 riot police which intercepted the miners' march.

There is no doubt that what we are witnessing in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union represents a turning point in world history. Such turning points pose difficult theoretical questions which cannot be answered by the mechanical repetition of old formulas. Marxists must answer the question: what is the real content of the processes taking place and in which direction are they heading?

On January 1999 the Romanian miners marched again on the capital Bucarest in opposition to plans to close the mines. As a result miners' leader Miron Cozma was sentenced to 18 years of jail and arrested during violent clashes between miners and riot police. The miners from the Jiu Valley have a long and proud history of struggle. Alan Woods examines the implications for the process of capitalist restoration in Romania.

We republish this article written by Alan Woods in 1990 about the process of capitalist restoration in Romania. At that time the miners had marched on the capital Bucarest and clashed with the pro-capitalist students who were organising demonstrations. Alan Woods analysed the situation from a class point of view.