Teachers refuse to end strike as PM apologises

Eugenijus Jesinas
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Teachers’ unions, which started an open-ended strike on Monday in about a tenth of the country’s schools, met with government representatives on Wednesday to continue negotiations over teachers’ demands that include better pay and education reform.

Government vice-chancellor Rimantas Vaitkus told reporters after the meeting that teachers had lowered their demands, but meeting them would still require revisions to the national budget.

The ruling parties are to meet to discuss options for that this week before talks resume next Monday, according to Vaitkus.

“The unions have presented a new set of demands that are smaller than before, but still not a set that the government could meet with available budgets. The political council will decide whether the budget will be revised or not,” Vaitkus said.

Teachers’ representatives said they had lowered their demands so that now the government would need €12 million, instead of €18 million, to raise teachers’ pay as of September.

“Our demand is to give a 5% raise to all teachers this September, which would cost the government a little less. This is our main object of talks,” said Eugenijus Jesinas, president of the Lithuanian Education Institutions Union.

He also said that Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius had offered his apologies for earlier statements that teachers’ unions might be getting orders from Moscow.

The Ministry of Education and Science said that 190 schools and kindergartens across the country continued to be affected by the strike on Wednesday, down from 233 on Monday, about 10% of all schools.

The action involves some 5,000 teachers, out of 33,000, according to the ministry.

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