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Teachers' unions won't rule out another strike but want to negotiate first

Representatives of teachers' trade unions said they were satisfied with the outcome of a nationwide strike by teachers held on Thursday, September 13. They now say they want to sit down next week with Education Minister Dušan Čaplovič as well as employers in the education sector for further discussions, the TASR newswire reported.

Representatives of teachers' trade unions said they were satisfied with the outcome of a nationwide strike by teachers held on Thursday, September 13. They now say they want to sit down next week with Education Minister Dušan Čaplovič as well as employers in the education sector for further discussions, the TASR newswire reported.

"If the negotiations aren't successful, we'll then decide on further steps," said the head of the teachers' trade union organising the strike, Pavol Ondek, adding that further strike action cannot be ruled out. Teachers are demanding a salary increase of at least 10 percent by next year, and a rise in spending on the education system until this reaches 6 percent of GDP. The current level is around 3.2 percent.

"If the government adopted these gradual steps, investment in the education system could go up every year – not only to be used for salary increases, but also for modernising the equipment at schools, and for science and research," said Ondek, adding that the overall extra costs should represent €100 million a year. According to the unions, the strike was supported by teachers at 90 percent of primary schools, 80 percent of secondary schools and 30 percent of universities [even though the university year has yet to begin]. More than 100 private schools and 13 church schools were also affected.

Čaplovič said on Thursday that he wants to address the disadvantageous situation in the Slovak education system to the benefit of the disgruntled teachers, but it is not an easy thing to do during the current economic crisis. "Should I take it [the money for salaries] from the disabled? From pensioners? From children? No. The current situation tells me that these must be extra resources as part of the consolidation and if they aren't [available], it'll be very difficult to solve," Čaplovič said at a press conference, adding he is ready to negotiate with the trade unions about their requirements.

The education minister described teachers' salaries as one of his priorities, adding that his ambition is to ensure that their remuneration rises to 1.2-times the average salary in the national economy within four years. But he concluded that he cannot imagine anything better than that.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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