Thousands of Romanians protest new employment legislation as gov’t faces no-confidence vote

BUCHAREST, Romania — Some 10,000 Romanians gathered outside parliament Wednesday to protest new employment legislation, while inside a no-confidence vote in the government took place.

Opposition leaders later left Parliament and joined the protest, with lawmakers still to vote for the no-confidence motion which the governing coalition is expected to survive.

Crin Antonescu, leader of the opposition Liberal Party, told Prime Minister Emil Boc during the sitting that the motion would “maybe” not pass today.

“But sooner or later you will go and will be gone for good because you humiliate this country and most of its people, and you do it with without any regard for people and a smile on your face.”

Protesters and unions say the new legislation by Boc — whose popularity has plummeted since he implemented harsh austerity measures — will turn them into slaves, allowing employers to fire people more easily and demand they work longer hours.

The government, however, says it will make the market more flexible and increase the number of legally employed workers.

Boc argued the legislation was necessary: “How can you pretend reduce work done on the black market if we don’t make it easier for employers to hire?” he told lawmakers.

Among the protesters was television engineer Adrian Sobaru who become a symbol for anti-government protests after he dived from a balcony onto the floor of Romania’s parliament in December to protest austerity measures.

“We need hope for us and for our children. Every person counts,” he told the crowd.

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