Prime minister to meet teachers’ unions as dispute deepens over ‘illegal’ strike

Teachers' strike
DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

“I think I will have the opportunity to meet with the educators‘ trade union leaders. Really, I think that these issues need to be solved through dialogue,” Butkevičius said.

Teacher’s Unions released a statement on Thursday expressing “public non-confidence” in Rimantas Vaitkus, the First Deputy of Chancellor of the Government. They said that Vaitkus’ statements on the potential strike were misleading and in breach of their constitutional right to strike and “a direct intimidation of the education community”.

Vaitkus himself has insisted that the strike is possibly illegal, which might have consequences. “If the strike is illegal, that brings about legal consequences. I am not saying there will be fines, I’m just saying we need to find out whether the strike is legal after the unions pulled out of negotiations,” Vaitkus said on Thursday. He did not specify what consequences he meant.

“The organiser is always responsible for work discipline and if the strike is illegal, the organiser must take measures specified in the Labour Code. We have the rule of law in this country – a strike must first be deemed legal and only then can it be held. The other side says the strike is legal, while I maintain that they themselves pulled out of negotiations,” the government vice-chancellor said.

After the Prime Minister announced he would personally meet with union representatives in January, they postponed plans for an open-ended strike at the end of the month. Last December, teachers organized warning strikes, demanding higher wages, and held a rally in Vilnius this week.

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