Croatian teachers announce national-wide strike

Teachers’ unions did not strike on Monday due to the 28th anniversary of the fall of Vukovar in the Homeland War, and union representatives announced a nation-wide strike of primary and secondary teachers for today. The leader of the national union of secondary school teachers, Branimir Mihalinec, said that the new round of the strike would start on Tuesday, when all primary and secondary schools in the country would strike against the government’s last offer to the unions, which they consider shameful, less favorable than the previous one, and an attempt to humiliate the striking education-sector workers. They underlined that the strike will continue until their demands were met.

Responding to unions threat, representatives of labor and pension system ministry underlined that the government offer was final and that, as earlier announced, the government would not pay teachers for the days of strike after Nov 15 (each teacher would lose HRK315 per day), as it did not have financial possibility. The ministry also underlined it believes that the government offer was generous and basically met teachers’ demands. The ministry also called on teachers to take into account the effect of their industrial action and to put on first place the needs of pupils and students, as well as to realize that their demands were unrealistic.

The government’s last offer to the striking unions consisted of a 6.12% increase in the base pay next year (to cost the budget some HRK1.1-1.2bn; for securing financing, the government gave up its plan to cut the 25% standard VAT rate by 1pp as of Jan 1, 2020), an analysis of wages in the public sector, including job complexity indices, and an agreement on a wage supplement of 2% if the government fails to amend the regulation on job complexity indices by Jun 30, 2020. The unions demand a 6.11% increase in the job complexity index for teachers so that they do not lag behind other public services. Their strike, which is a rotating one, has been going on for 26 days and so far each student is six school days short of the prescribed number of school days. Leaders of the striking primary and secondary school teachers’ unions were expected to decide on Monday on the models of their industrial action for the period after Tuesday. Union leaders have said that they will publish on Tuesday the results of a referendum among their members on the government’s offer. According to data presented last week, the government’s offer was rejected with more than 95% of the vote.

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