Exactly one year after teachers picketed outside Government Offices, workers in the education sector are slated to hold a one-day strike that is expected to keep teachers and other staff away from schools on September 13, the TASR newswire learned on Monday, August 27. Speaking at a press conference on the same day, the head of the sector's trade unions, Pavel Ondek, announced that the strike is expected to run between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.
"Both teachers and non-teaching staff shouldn't carry out their work for their employers. As for pupils, parents will be notified as to whether or not their particular school will join the strike," said Ondek.
The trade union's top representatives convened at a meeting on Monday to discuss the budget proposal for the education sector in 2013. The Slovak Finance Ministry has earmarked €2.45 billion for the sector, which is an increase of €16.6 million, but Ondek says this is mainly due to extra money from EU funds.
"In comparison with this year's budget, the expenditure of the state budget (in the education sector) for 2013 has dropped by €7.85 million. This may translate into a cut in salaries for all categories of employees in the education sector," said Ondek. The trade unions are demanding that salaries of teaching personnel amount to 1.2-2 times the current average salary. The planned strike is intended to make the government come to grips with the dismal financial situation in education and the insufficient funding of research. Based on recent figures, teachers in Slovakia earn an average of €770 per month.
In response to the announcement of the planned work stoppage, the ministry said that Education Minister Dušan Čaplovič (Smer) has three priorities in mind for next year's budget. They concern scholarships for children of the needy, salaries in the sector and support of research and science. Debate on these three priorities is currently underway between Čaplovič and officials from the Finance Ministry, said Čaplovič's spokesman Michal Kaliňák. "It needs to be restated, however, that funding for the education sector is dependent on the overall state of public finances," he cautioned.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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