Lithuanian teachers stage warning strike

DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

“The whole education system is suffering because of funding cuts, and we cannot do certain education processes,” Liuda Ščensnovičienė, the trade union leader representing teachers of Vilnius Simonas Daukantas Progymnasium, told BNS.

As teachers protested, extracurricular activities were organized instead of some classes.

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Education and Science Minister Dainius Pavalkis says the industrial action is illegal and that all demands cannot be satisfied due to a constrains of the state budget.

The ministry says teachers from only 33 schools and vocational training establishments are taking part in the strike. Meanwhile, the teachers’ trade union claims the strike should involve around 100 schools.

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Pre-election stunt

Minister Pavalkis has said that the strike might have something to do with the upcoming local elections

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In his words, his ministry considers that the strike has been organized in violation of the existing procedures but does not plan to turn to court. Such a move would be made only if teachers did not drop “radical unrealistic demands” and started preparing for a long-term strike.

“It most probably has to do with the upcoming municipal elections and the wish to do some politicizing and make some noise. (…). The biggest surprise was the fact that the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania emerged from behind all this with their support. I did not expect that,” the minister said.

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In his words, the Thursday strike was joined by at least 1,000 teachers from around 50 schools.

Teachers demand a raise in the so-called student’s basket, funding for one student, to the level of 2009. They also want wages of teachers from pre-school establishments to be raised to the level of school teachers as well an increase in the basic wage. The trade unions also want a collective agreement of the education system to be signed, among other things, providing for teachers’ retirement at the age of 55.

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