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Thousands Of Romanian Workers Protest Low Wages

Thousands of Romanian workers from all over the country protested low wages in the capital on Wednesday, rallying outside government headquarters to demanded leaders do something to increase their pay.

Trade unions said up to 20,000 workers were expected to take part in the three-hour rally, and traffic was diverted in Bucharest.

Hundreds of thousands of teachers, medical staff and other public workers staged a one-day strike Monday.

Romania is mired in a deep recession and is dependent on a $17.1 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to pay some public sector wages. Unions want a minimum monthly salary of 650 lei (euro155, US$228) in 2010 and are demanding that the government scrap a measure forcing workers to take 10 unpaid vacation days this year.

Romania's economic downturn was made worse by political instability after the coalition government collapsed last week when the Social Democrats quit the government. Prime Minister Emil Boc leads a minority government but even that is not expected to survive, after opposition parties said they would file a no confidence motion in coming days.

President Traian Basescu acknowledged this weekend that there was no clear way for Romania out of the recession.

"Neither the government, myself nor the central bank can get Romania out of this crisis, because it's not possible. It's a global crisis and Romania is dependent on what happens globally."

Romania holds presidential elections on Nov. 22.

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