Education Minister Calls on Prime Minister, Unions to Start Dialogue

By 19 November 2019

ZAGREB, November 19, 2019 - Science and Education Minister Blaženka Divjak on Tuesday held a special news conference calling on striking teachers' unions and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković to start a dialogue, find a compromise and give priority to children's interests.

"Since the start of the strike, I have been trying to reconcile two rights - the right of students to quality education and the right of teachers to fight for a better financial status. As of today, that can no longer be reconciled. The current situation, with the entire education system being in a state of blockade, is the result of a game of power between the unions and the prime minister. I don't want to participate in that," said Divjak.

Students' future is at stake, she said, calling on education-sector unions and the prime minister to rise above their current positions and find a good compromise and give children priority, as otherwise all would be losers.

Asked if she had considered tendering her resignation, she said that she had considered how to not contribute to the chaos but rather help find a solution.

"I will not take sides. There is a lack of good dialogue and that's not good. The dissatisfaction expressed by teachers is also due to that," she said.

Primary and secondary school teachers earlier in the day said their strike, which so far has been a rotating one, would continue as a general strike until their demands were met.

They also announced protests to be held during a congress of the European People's Party (EPP) on Wednesday and Thursday, in Zagreb's central Ban Josip Jelačić Square and outside the government and parliament offices, in St. Mark's Square.

Members of the striking teachers' unions have rejected the government's last offer by a vast majority of votes.

The government's last offer consisted of a 6.12% increase in the base pay next year, an analysis of wages in the public sector, including job complexity indices, and an agreement on a wage supplement of 2% if the government fails to amend the regulation on job complexity indices by June 30.

The unions demand a 6.11% increase in the job complexity index for teachers so that they do not lag behind other public services.

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