Thousands of teachers headed for the streets today instead of the classroom in a nationwide strike over pay demands, but the government and education minister Dusan Caplovic are not willing to budge on their proposed 5% hike, while the teachers are demanding 10%.
Teachers made their voice heard at public demonstrations in major towns and cities, with up to 5,000 congregating in Bratislava, but their calls are falling on deaf ears. Minister Caplovic merely said that he respected the teachers right to strike, but that he had no intention of backing down from the offer of a 5% pay hike, which he referred to as generous in a time of crisis and all that the state could afford.
Naturally, all schools support the strike but not all have joined in, as this has come down to a question of how individual schools and teachers are able to deal with the financial burden of the strike itself. Some schools say they can last two days, while others say they can hold out until Christmas.
Overall, the hope is that some quick compromise will be reached to boost the EUR 500-650 monthly salaries that most teachers receive and so bring them more in line with the European benchmark. Ironically, the teachers are too poor even to strike and we can be sure the education minister is also well are of this tactical advantage.