ZAGREB, October 10, 2019 – Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Thursday the strike which began in elementary and high schools today was “absurd and unnecessary” and appealed to unions to be reasonable and return to dialogue.
“We talked with the unions, there was conciliation. We offered them a 2% pay rise this year and as much next year. For some unfathomable reason, the unions didn’t accept that,” he said at the start of a cabinet meeting.
Instead of accepting the government’s offer, they insisted on changing the job complexity index for teachers, which is regulated by the government, Plenković said.
There was no justified reason for this strike, he said, adding that his government had carried out an education reform and introduced a new methodology which should better prepare students for the labour market.
He called the union demands “fabricated, absurd and unnecessary,” saying that neither the basic nor the branch collective agreement had expired.
“This demand is about changing the (job complexity) index, which is regulated by government decree. Going on strike when you are offered 4% instead of the 6% you are asking for seems a little exaggerated. This is no will for a compromise but for some sort of obstruction. We distinguish between what is logical and normal and what seems exaggerated,” Plenković said.
We are open for talks and I hope reason will prevail, he added.
Work and Solidarity Party president Milan Bandić called on Prime Minister Andrej Plenković on Thursday to raise teachers’ salaries by 6% as of September 1, by 4% as of 1 January 2020 and by 7% as of 1 January 2021, saying this was not his condition to the prime minister but the condition of all conditions.
Speaking at a press conference, Bandić said his party would not leave the ruling coalition because it cooperated with the government on projects, adding that this pay rise was the project of all projects.
He said Education Minister Blaženka Divjak should have resolved the pay rise issue earlier and that his party had asked her to do so in August already.
Bandić extended full support for teachers, who are on strike as of today, saying he expected the prime minister to resolve the situation today so that children could go to school.
He added that he trusted in Plenković’s prudence and wisdom because both knew that there cannot be a Croatia without “living people, educated and employed people, and teachers are the foundation of Croatian education.”
“There is money for computer studies yet there isn’t the 1.2 billion kuna for the 17% pay rise,” Bandić said, adding that “we support the teachers’ justified strike.”
He said there must be money for the country’s priorities and that they are demographic revival, education, work and employment.
Bandić, who is also the mayor of Zagreb, said the capital had raised salaries for 700 teachers for the 2019-2020 school year by 17% as of September and that this would cost HRK 8 million for the year 2020.
A strike began in over 1,000 elementary and high schools today because the government turned down a demand by two unions for a 6% pay rise.
More education news can be found in the Lifestyle section.