• February 22, 2016
  • 322

Teachers’ strike has begun

On 2nd February, Lithuanian kindergarten and school teachers went on strike. On that day, representatives of trade unions for teachers expected the government and the Ministry of Education to make particular promises and to meet their demands.

“The teachers are discouraged by the attitude of the Ministry of Education and Science. They are also ready to be on strike for a long period of time,” said Maria Rynkiewicz, the leader of the trade union of the teachers working in Władysław Syrokomla High School in Vilnius. “We approve of all demands from the union because all teachers in Lithuania have to deal with the same problems. The schools of national minorities have additional issues which are not being taken into account by the government.

“For instance, up until 2009, there was the possibility to form classes consisting of fewer students in schools for national minorities. Unfortunately, the Liberals and Minister Gintaras Steponavičius decided to eliminate that rule and, in doing so, caused a lot of harm. Accreditation is another problem of Wł. Syrokomla High School.

“Every possible committee positively assessed the readiness of the school to acquire accreditation. Yet, we still do not know what is going to happen. We are still in suspense,” said Maria Rynkiewicz.

“Most of the teachers, that’s 54 people, decided to participate in the strike. We want the money spent per student to be as high as before 2009. In 2009, we were robbed, the laws of the Constitution were broken, our salaries were decreased and guidelines for salary rates were introduced. We are living in a country with laws and the law must be obeyed. We want our school system to be handled better. The well-being of our students is at stake here. If the money per student is increased, there will be more money for education. Our proposal to lower the number of students per class is also aimed at improving the quality of teaching,” Maria Rynkiewicz added.

According to statistical data from the Education Information Network “Eurydice”, the salaries of teachers in Lithuania are ridiculously low. Their salaries are the lowest in Europe, with teachers from countries including Romania, Slovenia, Poland and Estonia earning more.

As stated in the statistical data provided by the Ministry of Education and Science, teachers earn on average 823,4 Euros per month, excluding taxes.

“The earnings of teachers are dependent on many factors such as the city they work in, their experience and qualifications. Teachers can earn from as little as 300 Euros – which is below minimum wage in Lithuania – to 800 Euros. The average number given of 823 Euros is a result of considering the wages of administrative workers, expert teachers, methodologists and standard teachers. In actuality, teachers do not earn this much money,” Maria Rynkiweicz claims.

The data acquired by the Ministry of National Defence declares that the strike started in 201 high schools, 30 kindergartens and 2 facilities of informal education – 233 educational facilities in total. The teachers are demanding 18 million Euros of additional funding for their salaries from 1 September.

“We did not reach any agreement,”said Eugenijus Jesinas, the head of the Educational Facilities Trade Union in Lithuania. “Our essential demands – increased salaries from 1 September 2016 and liquidation of guidelines for salary rates – were not met. Neither the Ministry of Education and Science nor the Ministry of Finance were prepared to present all the calculations. Additionally, the latter Ministry maintains that there are no available funds in the budget. We are surprised by the attitude of the government. They are showing such dread at the thought of filing a motion to reconsider the budget. Further, the Labour Party’s Kęstutis Daukšys registered a proposal for a resolution to contribute  additional funding of 17,3 million Euros to pay for salary increases for teachers. Taking into account the fact that the party is in a coalition with the Social Democrats and the “Order and Law” party, I think this is a good sign. Now the coalition needs to approve of this project and the problem will be solved.”

Currently, the representatives of the trade unions are waiting for a definite answer.

“There was no definite refusal. But we did not hear an approval either. The strike continues. We are waiting for information from the government, or perhaps from the Political Council,” said Eugenijus Jesinas.


The Ministry of National Defence proposes, from 1st September, to increase salary rates by 1,5% for teachers and by 5% for kindergarten teachers. The Ministry wants to spend 5 million Euros from the national budget.

Translated by Katarzyna Kosińska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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