Government promises to find money for wage increases as teachers’ strike continues

DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

Minister of Education and Science Audronė Pitrėnienė also mentioned that she may resign if the cabinet of ministers fails to fulfill this request.

On Tuesday, she has a meeting scheduled with Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius to discuss the source of the money in the government’s budget that could be used to fulfill the striking teachers’ demands without revising the budget.

“The government does not have those sorts of reserves. They can be found by revising this year’s budget, but do you see a chance to do that? We certainly won’t request to revise the budget for 7 or 8 million Euros,” said Butkevičius.

When discussing the issue with the teachers’ trade union leaders, Pitrėnienė did not exclude the possibility of resigning if the government refused to find additional financing for the teachers. She later told journalists, however, that “that wasn’t a promise, it was a conversation.”

Last week, a compromise was offered to the leaders of the protesting teachers’ trade union according to which teachers’ salaries would grow by 5% starting on 1 September, and that the wage coefficient “scissors” would be eliminated in the beginning of 2017.

However, Andrius Navickas, the chairman of the teachers’ union, said that not all of the teachers’ demands had been discussed at the meeting with the government, and that the compromise offered was not legally binding.

“It’s another trick and another empty promise that definitely won’t be implemented,” Navickas said after the meeting.

The teachers’ unions have claimed that the strike will continue until the required sum – almost €13 million – has been found. According to the Ministry of Education and Science, 150 educational institutions continued participating in the strike on Monday, including more than 3,650 teachers. The teachers’ unions, however, claim that more institutions were on strike than the ministry claimed. At the beginning of the strike last week, 233 educational institutions participated in the strike.

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