- February 19, 2016
The teachers will go on strike
“On Monday, 22nd February, we are going on a termless strike of teachers – told to the “Kurier” Audrius Jurgelevičius, chairman of the trade union of education in Lithuania. – Prime Minister presented his thoughts on increasing the salaries, changing the system of payments, social guarantees. It was set that on Monday, as the strike starts, the Ministry of Education and Science will present some specific proposals. Then we decide whether we continue the strike.”
The final decision regarding the strike was made after the meeting of the representatives of the trade unions of teachers with Prime Minister – Algirdas Butkevičius.
– The proposals of the Prime Minister were very abstract, and not backed with any calculations, said Audrius Jurgelevičius. The meeting was rather about philosophy and instead of that we wanted to hear specific numbers, percents. Now, it all depends on Monday’s arrangements. It was set that Prime Minister will participate in the further negotiations with the Ministry of Education and Science, which is a strange conception. Once again, that proves our speculations were right that the political leadership of the Ministry of Education and Science does not want to and can not accept any responsibility, so they get rid of that by giving it to the “enemies” of Lithuania – trade unions or Prime Minister.
According to the preliminary data, about one-third of the pedagogues will go on strike.
– I believe that fundamental changes are needed – says one of the pedagogues from Vilnius kindergarten, who has asked to remain anonymous. – Nobody wants to work in a kindergarten anymore. Since September, 5 people have resigned. Young people come to work, but they see the salaries and then they look for a different job. A pedagogue, who starts the career, earns just a bit more than the minimal salary is (€350 net – added by the author) and a little bit more than a nanny without education.
As she says, the salary is incommensurable to the number of responsibilities and demands.
– I come back home and I feel like a squeezed lemon, I don’t even feel like talking to others. We are working in overcrowded groups and this is a responsible work with small children. Everyone of them requires a lot of attention and care. Meanwhile, you have to fill tons of papers, decorate the rooms, create and conduct some extra classes and go for trainings (on your own account!).
The experienced teacher told us that while having 26 years of work done and a senior pedagogue degree, after the final January pay rise, she earns €509.
– We have the lowest pay in the entire Europe. Once again, we are at the infamous end of the list – she claims. – The prices of the products in shops have gone up, and so has the cost of heating. The bills have gone up but the salaries are still ridiculous. This year, my daughter is planning to go to university. If she doesn’t get into a state-funded major, then we won’t be able to afford the luxury of getting higher education.
THE DEMANDS OF THE TEACHERS
Reintroducing individual student funding according to the one available before January 1st, 2009, so the amount of €1 093. Now, individual student funding is €1 014.
Increasing the salaries of the pedagogues of kindergartens – from September 1st, 2016 increasing the rate by 5%, from January 1st, 2017 – by another 10%, so that those are equal to the ones of the teachers at general establishments. An increase of the hours which are meant for filling the papers, preparation of the program etc., from 3 to 6 weekly is demanded.
Abolition of the “range” of the rates of salaries from September 1st, 2016 with keeping the maximum rates, so that all the teachers with the same qualifications have the same pay.
Decrease of number of children and students in groups: in kindergartens in groups of 1,5-3year olds to 10 people, 3-7 year olds to 15 people; in schools in 1st-4th grade to 20 people, in 5th-12th grade – to 25.
Translated by Weronika Cysdorf within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.