Lithuanian teachers begin strike as negotiations over pay rise continue

Teachers staged a rally in Vilnius last week
DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

Teachers’ unions say about 300 schools across the country will take part in the strike. Meanwhile the Ministry of Education and Science gives a figure of 200, or about 12% of education institutions in the country.

Unions demand that teachers’ wages be incrementally raised staring this September. They also want to scrap a measure, introduced as part of an austerity package in 2009, which allows differentiating pay for similar workload in the education system.

The Ministry of Education and Science has promised to propose a deal on Monday, outlining a plan for wage raises.

“If the unions sign a protocol of agreement with a government representative, the strikes should be postponed, such is the deal,” Deputy Minister Genovaitė Krasauskienė said last Friday.

She said the ministry needed to come up with €5 million in order to give a 1.5% wage boost, on average, as of September. Meeting other demands presented by teachers would require revising the entire state budget and a vote at the parliament, she added.

Teachers’ unions staged warning strikes last December and a rally in Vilnius last week.

The average pay for teachers in Lithuania is €823 before tax, according to Statistics Lithuania. However, about one third of education workers work part-time, about 10% have fewer than nine classes a week.

‘This us the limit’

About 80% of the 64 teaching staff at Simonas Daukantas School in Vilnius have joined the strike on Monday. All teachers are at school, but classes have been called off.

The school’s union leader Liuda Ščensnovičienė says the teachers have the right to demand that the government restore education funding to the level it was prior to the 2009 austerity measures and that the 1.5% wage raise offered by the government falls short of teachers’ demands.

“We have been talking for a year and a half, but they [the government] have not offered anything. No teacher wants to go on strike, […] but this is the limit,” Ščensnovičienė said. She added that teachers were prepared to strike until their demands were met.

The school’s headmistress Jūratė Liutinskaitė – Kalibatienė said that about 50 pupils out of 1,014 showed up for classes on Monday.

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