Teachers and school employees continued their nationwide unlimited strike on Tuesday, November 27, to improve funding for education in Slovakia. Most schools remained closed on Tuesday although some of them resumed
On Monday, the the first day of the strike, 80 percent of elementary schools, 70 percent of high schools and over 5 percent of higher educational institutions participated. Thousands of teachers gathered at protest rallies in three cities, the SITA newswire wrote. According to trade unionists some 3,000 protested in Bratislava while rallies in Košice and Banská Bystrica were attended by around 2,000 each.
The protesters have addressed a joint statement to the government and parliament, in which they are demanding improvements in the education sector and a 10 percent salary increase. In their statement they demand that the government signs a memorandum with the teachers unions, containing gradual steps over a four-year period so that Slovakia’s share of GDP spent on education catches up with that of other EU members. The protesting teachers also demanded in their address to MPs, that next year's budget allocates enough money to increase salaries for all education sector employees by 10 percent.
Education Minister Dušan Čaplovič said he understands the demands of the teachers but he insists that the budget does not allow to give them more money than the offered 5-percent pay rise. The date of a meeting between trade unionists and government officials has not yet been set. Due to the strike, Prime Minister Robert Fico postponed his scheduled visit to Romania today in order to prepare for negotiations that could take place as early as Tuesday afternoon, if necessary.
The strike will not end at once at all schools: the central strike committee is scheduled to meet later in the day to go over reports from individual schools, and will set the length of the strike accordingly. School trade unionists insist on a 10-percent rise in tariff wages for all employees in regional and university education. They say that, in gradual steps, the GDP share spent on education should be increased to 6 percent by the end of the election term. Salaries of teachers in regional education should gradually achieve 1.2 - 1.6 percent above the average wage in the national economy and 1.7 – 3 percent at higher educational institutions. They also demand that the lowest tariff wage for non-pedagogical employees should equal the minimum wage.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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