Teachers’ strike to end Friday, say union leaders

Audrius Jurgelevičius, leader of the teachers' trade union

Four teachers’ unions said on Thursday they would end strike on Friday, after signing an agreement to that effect with the prime minister and the minister of education. The agreement also includes a provision that striking teachers will not lose pay for the days spent on strike.

Minister of Science and Education Audronė Pitrėnienė was able to find €6 million after revising the minstry’s programs. After a meeting between Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius and representatives from the Ministry of Finance, an additional €2 million was found from among European Union structural funds meant for investment in various programs in Lithuania.

“Our goal is to end this chaos, where students aren’t learning and teachers can’t work. We will probably decide to end the strike on Friday. On the other hand, we will demand the discussion of a collective agreement next week that would reflect the principles needed to solve education workers’ fundamental issues,” said Jurgelevičius.

After the meeting between Butkevičius, Pitrėnienė and the representative from the Ministry of Finance, Vicechancellor of the Government Rimantas Vaitkus said that they will try to return to the negotiations with the teachers’ trade unions on the signing of a sectoral agreement that were interrupted earlier this year. This led to disagreements on wage increases and reform.

According to the Vicechancellor, whether or not the so-called “wage scissors,” which reduced educational workers’ wages during the recession, will be removed in 2017 will depend on how Lithuania’s economy grows this year.

From January of this year, the government’s budget had €21 million set aside to increase educational workers’ salaries. The €8 million that the trade unions negotiated for from the government will be added on to this amount.

Butkevičius should meet with the trade unions’ leaders on Thursday before lunch.

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