On Tuesday, in around 400 educational establishments (both schools and kindergartens), the two first lessons did not take place as teachers and form masters went on strike. The teachers are not pleased with the educational policies of the country and demand higher salaries and better working conditions. The education trade unions inform that 10, 000 teachers went on a warning strike. However, the Ministry of Education and Science informed that around 300 from over 2, 000 schools and kindergartens and some 6, 000 teachers (11% of the total number) participated in the strike.
In the school I work in – “Ąžuolyno” w Elektrėnai – all teachers are on strike. Students and parents were told that the two first classes would be cancelled” – said Audrius Jurgelevičius, the leader of the Educators’ Trade Union.
The protesting teachers are demanding a pay rise and better working conditions. Other requests include standardization of salaries for teachers at kindergartens and high schools, decreasing the number of children in kindergarten groups and in classes, signing group agreements with the teachers and the introduction of the possibility to retire at the age of 55. The trade unions are also demanding the restoration of the financing level for a single student from the year 2009.
The compromise committee, created by the Ministry of Education and Science on Tuesday, 1st December, tried to reach an agreement between the Ministry and the trade unions. The Ministry tried to convince the union that the situation is going to change as an additional 10 million Euros will be spent on the education system by the government. Minister Audronė Pitrėnienė assured that from 1 January 2016 the salaries of kindergarten and preschool teachers wil rise by 7%, new teachers will get a 5% increase and high school teachers will see a 3% raise.
„We feel like we have no other choice. The government has been ‘feeding’ the teaching community promises for so long that we thought we need, finally, to make the government keep these promises” – said Rūta Osipavičiūtė, a Mathematics teacher at Vilnius “Žvėryno” Junior High School and the leader of the Educators’ of the city of Vilnius Trade Union.
On 16th October there was a protest in front of the Seimas in Vilnius. It was organized „against the unjust social and educational politics” by the educators and the parents of children at Polish schools. Trade unions from outside Vilnius did not participate in the protest. Audrius Jurgelevičius explained it by saying: „We suppose that the issues of education are just a pretext to solve completely different problems”.
Sources: BNS, lrt.lt, own information
Tłumaczenie by Katarzyna Kosińska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Kosińska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.