ZAGREB, November 26, 2019 – Teachers’ unions and the government on Monday failed to reach agreement on the demands by striking teachers, and negotiations will continue on Tuesday.
The unions would not discuss details of the meeting, while the government representative expressed optimism and said that the two sides were “close to a solution”.
“We failed to reach agreement and are continuing negotiations tomorrow. We agreed not to reveal whether we are satisfied or not, but the positive fact is that we are continuing talks tomorrow,” the leader of the Matica association of trade unions, Vilim Ribić, told the press after seven hours of talks in the government offices.
The head of the secondary school teachers’ union, Branimir Mihalinec, said: “We are continuing negotiations tomorrow. If we conclude them tomorrow, we go to a referendum.” He declined to talk about the government’s offer or say if any progress had been made.
The leader of the primary school teachers’ union, Sanja Šprem, said that the talks were exhausting. “There are several options on the table and tomorrow we will see what possible solutions are. We made a maximum contribution in order for the talks to be constructive and conclusive,” she said, adding that they expected the days spent on strike to be paid.
The chief government negotiator, the prime minister’s chief of staff Zvonimir Frka Petešić, said that progress had been made and that the talks were “very constructive”. “I think we are close to a solution, and talks are continuing tomorrow,” he said.
“We are absolutely aware of the injustice towards primary and secondary school teachers that has accumulated over the years and we want to remedy it. We are seeking the best solution. There are a lot of options on the table, but I cannot discuss that. It is very important to us that we arrive at a solution,” Petešić said.
Earlier, the prime minister’s adviser on social issues, Zvonko Kusić of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, said in a television talk show that the talks with the unions were “exhausting, complex and promising.”
Kusić said that the unions were inclined to job complexity indices being revised over a certain period of time because it was a complicated process, and until that is done, the proposal is to revise wage supplements to compensate for the inadequate indices.
The meeting between the unions and the government came after over 20,000 teachers from all over Croatia gathered in Zagreb’s main square Trg Bana Jelačića at noon on Monday to demand a 6.11% increase of job complexity indices to close the wage gap with other public services.
Mihalinec asked the press to try to find out what sort of lists the police were making of protesters in Krapina-Zagorje County, saying that this was “intimidation of the people on strike.”
Petešić said he was surprised by this information because the right to strike was guaranteed by the constitution. He said the police were making inquiries about the number of buses used by protesters for reasons of traffic safety.
The unions said it was not clear why the police needed such information only in one county and not in the others, stressing that they had notified the police in advance that there would be about 200 buses.
More news about the teachers’ strike can be found in the Politics section.