Today thousands of teachers congregated outside the Government Office to express their dissatisfaction at how the government is not dealing with a lack of funding for schooling and low salaries in line with the Government Manifesto.
Many people questioned whether the declared 7,000-8,000 teachers would show up for the demonstration, but the impressive turnout of around 9,000 would prove them wrong as busloads of teachers from all over the country descended on the country’s capital. They were joined in a show of solidarity also by other trade unions, including one of the biggest and most active, the KOVO trade union.
The first speaker, trade unionist from Nitra, Miroslav Kovac, pointed out how “teachers have been tightening their belt for some 22 years already, but our trousers are still falling down”. They are highly dissatisfied with pay conditions and so are demanding a minimum 15% hike across-the-board to bring teachers’ salaries to at least 1.2 times the average wage.
If the demands of teachers are not met, a session of the trade union planned for 6 October will decide on next steps and on whether to call a strike or not. For this they need the consent of at least 60% of of teachers and so the necessary questionnaires should be dispatched to schools all over the country in the next few days.
At present Slovakia spends just 3.8% of the GDP on the education system, putting it in 20th place in the EU, and the trade unions are demanding that this be increased to 6%. Although this might be ambitious, any progress would certainly be a step in the right direction.