• February 24, 2016
  • 31

A compromise was reached after the teachers’ strike

On Monday, 22 February, a part of Lithuanian teachers went on a strike to demand a pay rise. According to the organizers, over 200 high schools, 30 kindergartens, and 2 facilities of informal education supported the protest.

Another stage of negotiations between the representatives of the education trade unions and the government took place yesterday.

– At first, Vice Chancellor Rimantas Vaitkus attended the meeting on the behalf of the government. He demonstrated absolute lack of knowledge about what is going on in our education system and used populist statements. We even wanted to interrupt the discussion but there unexpectedly appeared Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius. Then the discussion became more rational – told “Kurier” Eugenijus Jesinas, the head of Educational Facilities Trade Union in Lithuania.

As he noted, they finally managed to reach a compromise on the issue of raising pedagogues’ salaries.

– Instead of the demanded 17 million euro, we determined a new sum – 12,8 million euro. In this way teachers’ salaries will be raised by 5% from September. This is our final demand. The Prime Minister promised to instantly consider our proposal together with coalition partners and expressed hope that the Ministry of Education and Science with its head, MP Audronė Pitrėnienė, will have financial abilities to obtain 5 million euro. He noted that the government, in turn, will find another 7 million euro without amending the approved budget – informed Eugenijus Jesinas.

Earlier, Kęstutis Daukšys, the member of Parliament from the Labor Party, registered a project in the Seimas, which offers a resolution to put additional funding of 17,3 million euro for teachers’ pay rise.

– This project will be discussed in the Seimas. There is a possibility that the members of Parliament will outvote spending this sum on raising teachers’ salaries – noted Jesinas.

Algirdas Butkevičius apologized the representatives of the trade unions and all the teachers for what he said on Tuesday. Then the Prime Minister announced in the media that Russia influences the teachers’ protest organizers.

– He said he was misled by his advisors. It was only because of the Prime Minister’s sincere apologies that we decided not to sue him for defamation – added Eugenijus Jesinas. He also ensured that the strike will continue as long as the government does not fully meet the teachers’ demands.

But the number of strike participants is decreasing day by day. On Monday, 233 educational facilities and 200 kindergartens took part in the indefinite strike.

– The teachers of our school protested on Monday. The first two classes were not held. In this way we expressed solidarity with teachers from all over the country. We agree with the trade unions’ demands but we limited ourselves to a single protest. Today our facility operates as usual, classes are held according to the timetable – said Regina Lewicka, vice principal of the Władysław Syrokomla High School in Vilnius.

***

According to the statistical data published by the Lithuanian Statistical Department, teachers earn on average 823,4 euro per month excluding taxation. Nevertheless, every third teacher does not work full-time.

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

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