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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Štafetový štrajk

ALTHOUGH Prime Minister Robert Fico is known for being a runner, he may have trouble keeping pace with the teachers. Their relay strike (štafetový štrajk) may not be as effective as a fully-fledged, simultaneous protest, but it can drag on for much longer. And ongoing unrest at the schools is certainly not good PR.

ALTHOUGH Prime Minister Robert Fico is known for being a runner, he may have trouble keeping pace with the teachers. Their relay strike (štafetový štrajk) may not be as effective as a fully-fledged, simultaneous protest, but it can drag on for much longer. And ongoing unrest at the schools is certainly not good PR.

It is easy to understand why, despite the economic crisis and the administration’s efforts to consolidate funds, teachers have little sympathy for the government. A year ago doctors, whose wages are higher anyway, forced the outgoing right-wing coalition to agree to further increases. The nurses were promised more too, although the Constitutional Court is blocking that agreement. Police and military officers were supposed to have their pensions taxed, but, following background pressure, the cabinet backed down from the plan. And the Constitutional Court shielded judges from having their pay determined by the performance of the economy – the move would supposedly threaten the independence of the judiciary.

And there is no need to feel sorry for Robert Fico either. Just a few months back he supported wage increases in health care, although the state of the economy was already miserable. He campaigned on the promise of “stability”, instead of explaining to voters that there is no money for such a thing. And just now he passed a set of measures intended to beat more money out of taxpayers, while his government not only refuses to substantially cut spending, but also visibly wastes money.

Perhaps Smer and the teachers will manage to reach some agreement. But it is not a question of if, but how soon someone else will take over the baton.

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