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Romanian teachers strike over low pay

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian teachers went on strike over pay on Monday for the first time since 2005 after last-minute negotiations with the coalition government failed.

A new teacher in Romania takes home just under 2,400 lei ($537) per month, not much more than half the national average monthly take-home pay of 4,554 lei ($1,019).

Over 150,000 teachers and other school staff in primary and secondary education across the European Union state will strike indefinitely, unionists said. University staff joined them on Monday for a two-hour solidarity strike.

Unions have asked for salary increases, inflation indexing, overtime pay and investment to boost infrastructure and teaching supplies.

The coalition government has committed to change its salary legislation for the entire public sector this year under a reform package agreed with the European Commission in exchange for recovery funds.

A draft bill is expected in July, but education unionists have said the new law will be enforced even later.

The government is under pressure to bring its fiscal deficit below the European Union's threshold of 3% of gross domestic product by next year.

The European Union state holds parliamentary, general, local and European Parliament elections in 2024.

($1 = 4.4664 lei)

(Reporting by Luiza Ilie, editing by Ed Osmond)