HNS Threatens to Leave Government Unless Teachers' Wages Are Raised

By 10 October 2019

ZAGREB, October 10, 2019 - The leader of the Croatian People's Party (HNS), Ivan Vrdoljak, said on Wednesday evening that the party's MPs were not going to vote for the 2020 budget unless it provided for a 4.3 percent increase of the job complexity index for teachers.

The HNS will not stay in the government unless the job complexity index and teachers' wages are raised because this is the party's priority, Vrdoljak told the press after a meeting of the HNS leadership.

After the process of conciliation between the government and teachers' unions has failed, the unions have announced a strike in all primary and secondary schools for Thursday because the government did not meet their demands for an increase of the job complexity index.

The secretary-general of the ruling HDZ, Gordan Jandroković, said on Wednesday there would be more talks on the ultimatum by the Croatian People's Party (HNS) that it would leave the ruling coalition if wages in education were not raised, adding that the HDZ would not accept ultimatums and that it was ready for every option.

There's no need for anyone to make ultimatums because that's not the way to arrive at a solution, Jandroković told reporters after a ruling coalition meeting which discussed HNS president Ivan Vrdoljak's statement that his party would leave the coalition unless next year's budget envisaged a 4.3% rise of the job complexity index in education.

Jandroković would not speculate on whether the government could survive without the HNS. "Talks are still possible, then we'll see... The HDZ is the coalition's central party. We have understanding for the positions of our coalition partners. We are willing to talk. But I repeat, we are ready for every option if necessary."

As for a strike in elementary and high schools announced for Thursday, he called for reason. "We are willing to raise salaries, which can be seen in the three years of the Andrej Plenković cabinet's term during which average salaries have gone up 12%," Jandroković said, adding that the base pay in education had gone up "by about 11.5%."

He said that under the government's latest proposal, salaries would go up another 4%, making the total in three years about 15%. "It's a marked rise. Of course, if possible, it would be even more. However, we must also take into account state finances, the viability of the financial system. There are police officers, there are customs officers, there's a whole set of sectors which would also ask for higher wages. We can give only how much the state has."

The ruling coalition also discussed a new schedule for national holidays and memorial days, and Jandroković said the partners supported the HDZ's motion.

More HNS news can be found in the Politics section.