PM offers new plan to meet teachers’ demands

Algirdas Butkevičius
DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

“We discussed the demands put forward by the leaders of teachers’ unions. […] We agreed today that the government should adopt a three-year programme to reform the education system, including higher pay,” Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, a social democrat, told reporters after Tuesday’s meeting of the ruling parties.

He said that the least-paid education workers should see their wages rise as early as this year. However, the required funds will have to be taken from the current education spending as the government has no plans to revise the national budget, he added.

Labour Party leader Valentinas Mazuronis said the agreement was a compromise between the social democrats and his party which had put forward a proposal to allocate additional €17.2 million for teachers wages this year, in defiance of the prime minister’s earlier statements that the national budget would not be revised.

Mazuronis said on Tuesday he hoped the new proposal would convince teachers to end strike.

Teachers in 233 schools started a strike on Monday, demanding higher wages and to scrap the measure, adopted as part of an austerity package in 2009, which allows differentiating pay for comparable work. The latter demand requires €18 million of additional funding, while the Ministry of Education and Science insisted it could come up with no more than €5 million without revising the national budget.

The ministry says 200 education institutions continue strike on Tuesday. A new round of negotiations between teachers and the government is scheduled on Wednesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, PM Butkevičius accused teachers’ unions of taking orders from Moscow.

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