November the 28th, 2019 – Goran Podunavac, a TCN author and dedicated Croatian teacher from Baranja provides his side of the story of the strike, as well as his thoughts, opinions and the reasons as to why he, as a Croatian teacher, is continuing to strike along with countless other employees in the country’s education sector.
I honestly don’t even know what day of the strike in which I’m participating we’re on now. Instead of being in class with my students, I’m sitting in the classroom with my colleagues and together in we’re all commenting in a sense of wonder on the kind of messages being sent out by the heads of the Croatian Government and appropriate ministry.
In their ”parrot-written” speeches, they repeatedly insist that they don’t understand the reasons for the Croatian teachers’ strike when they’re giving us more than what we’re even asking for. While the shameless proposal of our “benefactors” consists of salary supplements, we’re standing firmly behind our initial demand. We’re looking for a 6.11 percent increase in the coefficient in order for us to keep up with that of others employed in public services.
As an IT teacher, I could close the doors of the school and just go somewhere else to work where I’d definitely be more appreciated and ultimately – I’d definitely be better paid. But I love my job and see the sense and meaning in what I do.
There are many reasons why I’m striking.
I’m on strike because I want my work and other colleagues to be valued in an adequate way, because most of us are university graduates, and is it not shameful that our coefficients are the lowest of all those employed in the country’s public sector who hold a university degree?
I’m on strike because I’m dissatisfied with the attitude of all the former and the current policies towards us. I’m on strike because I’m dissatisfied with the possibility of the anonymous reporting of teachers. I’m on strike because I believe that when the introduction of the only current reform in Croatia started, our ministry didn’t even take into account at all that the scope of work for which we deserve higher wages was only increasing. For me, this is a strike of dignity and I refuse to give up on it that easily.
When it comes to the question of: ”Am I an uhljeb?” my students can provide the most honest answer of all. Students who, after twelve years of hard work, still believe that there’s hope for a better and brighter future for our country, and to them I say: Continue to be patient.
Don’t feel like you’ve been cast aside and don’t be angry with me or the rest of the school staff. I believe that you yourself know how important you are to me. Try to take some time to learn about civic duties during this time. Watch what happens and why, think about the position of power, and watch what a seemingly small man can do if he’s in a community of like-minded people who are fighting for their dignity. You and your parents don’t need to worry – I won’t leave you without knowledge and an education.
Yesterday in the referendum, like most of my colleagues in Croatia, I firmly circled on the ballot paper that I do not accept the government’s latest proposal and I’ll continue to strike until our initial request is fulfilled. I’m ready to get up again at 04:00 to come along with 50,000 of my fellow educators to Zagreb’s Ban Josip Jelačić Square. The solidarity and unity of that day showed me that one should fight for oneself with absolute dignity.
Finally, I’d like to reiterate to our government the very same message from the banner that I boldly and defiantly carried during the protest: “Teachers aren’t mindless sheep.”
The views expressed in this article are solely my own and may not represent the views of my colleagues or the schools in which I’m employed.
”We won’t give up.”