Teachers being underpaid is hardly a rare problem across the countries of Europe. But teachers successfully forcing the government to raise their salaries? That is pretty uncommon.
Nonetheless, that is what happened in Romania in recent months – the country’s politics were upended not by opposition parties, but by a well-organized series of protests and strikes. In May, the three largest teachers’ unions announced a strike, after failing to come to an agreement with the government on pay. 150,000 Romanian teachers, and more than 50,000 support staff joined the strike, sending an unmistakable message: raise teachers’ salaries, or face the consequences of our strike. This was followed by protests all across the country, which contributed to the pressure.
To sum up, teachers were able to demonstrate in such large numbers that the government had no choice but to raise their salaries, after three weeks of trying to avoid the problem.
How did that happen? And what can political movements learn? Here are some thoughts: