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IN SHORT

Teachers' strike hits nearly all schools

ABOUT 90 percent of Slovakia's schools joined a 12-hour strike organised by trade unions of Slovak education and science employees on June 20.

Affected schools were closed between 6:00 and 18:00, with only members of strike committees allowed access to buildings.

Unions are demanding more funding to ensure the proper operation of schools and related facilities, as well as regular hikes in real wages.

"We have decided for a 'silent' strike today. The government responded to our May 28 protest gatherings with silence, so we are striking silently now," regional education union leader, Mária Hronská, told the TASR news agency.

Education Minister Martin Fronc called the strike "premature", and said there was no relevant reason for it. As for the sector's underfunding, he said it had been addressed by the ministry's analysis of state budget risks, now being discussed by the Finance Ministry.

The strike, supported by several partner trade unions as well as opposition and leftist political parties, is a continuation of union activities in response to austerity measures introduced by the centre-right government. The Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions (KOZ) has not ruled out holding a general strike in September.

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