Strike relay baton handed over to university lecturers

Education minister sees the strike at universities as a symbolic gesture by individuals.

Juraj Halas receiving the relay baton from Ivana Jelen Sabanošová. Juraj Halas receiving the relay baton from Ivana Jelen Sabanošová. (Source: TASR)

Some university lecturers went on strike on February 15, taking over for the Slovak Teachers Initiative (ISU), which is interrupting its strike on the same day, but remaining on strike alert.

“We’re going on strike as of today in protest against the way in which our colleagues are being treated,” said Juraj Halas from University Lecturers Initiative (IVU), which is organising the strike, as cited by the TASR newswire.

So far, lecturers from 15 Slovak universities out of a total of 35 have joined the strike. Halas did not provide any specific numbers, but said that there are hundreds of them.

“It’s a sign of disagreement with the undignified social status that this country is assigning to teachers, but it is also in support of ISU’s three demands,” said Halas.

Read also:Teachers, pupils, university students protest in Bratislava Read more 

IVU is pushing for the same demands as ISU. It wants salary increases for all teaching and other professional staff in regional education by €140 per month as of this year and by €90 per month as of the beginning of 2017. It also demands increases in the budgets of the Education and Interior Ministries to the tune of hundreds of millions of euros in order to tackle differences in equipment among individual institutions.

Despite the strike, universities will not be closed down. The staff on strike will organise discussions, cultural events and meetings.

Juraj Draxler, the Education, Science, Research and Sport Minister considers the strike by some university lecturers to be a symbolic gesture by individuals. Draxler aligned himself with the Slovak Rectors Conference (SRK), which stated previously that the activities of the IVU are the lecturers’ personal initiative.

“It still applies that blueprint documents are being prepared at the ministry in cooperation with all professionals from the Education Ministry in order to address the issue of ongoing education of teachers and also possible alternatives for financing schools,” wrote Draxler in a document, adding that as universities are autonomous and self-governing institutions, they do not have the obligation to report exact numbers of teachers involved in the strike.

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