Plenković Expects School Strike to End Next Week

By 24 November 2019

ZAGREB, November 24, 2019 - Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Saturday that he expected the ongoing teachers' strike to end next week after the striking unions were on Friday presented with an offer that was expected to help free the strike from political connotations and show that the government respected teachers.

"According to the solution we have offered, schools should start working next week and the solution would also help teachers avoid becoming an instrument of political wrangling with the government of those who have some other ambitions," Plenković said in downtown Zagreb where he and several government ministers signed a list of support for the presidential candidacy of President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

The leader of the national union of secondary school teachers, Branimir Mihalinec, too, said on Friday evening that he expected the problem of the ongoing strike to be resolved next week but he also said that the strike would continue and announced a protest in Zagreb's Ban Josip Jelačić Square for Monday.

Just like union leaders, Plenković would not reveal the details of the offered solution either, saying only that it had to be sufficient to enable the return of children to schools and convince teachers that the government respects them.

He repeated that wages in the education sector would go up by 18% during the term of his government, but that job complexity indices were defined by a government regulation.

The regulation will be reviewed, but it takes time, he said.

The review will be done by external experts so as to prevent employees in other state and public services to go on strike after teachers, he said.

"We understand that teachers have felt disadvantaged for years in relation to some other employees because of their job complexity index. But that is not a subject of talks between the government and unions," he said.

Plenković repeated that one must not allow the topic of job complexity indices to be politicised by opposition politicians and interest groups.

"We cannot allow demagogues from the SDP to sign two petitions in one year. They signed the petition for the '67 is too much' referendum campaign and it was their government that raised the retirement age to 67. That won't be allowed," he said, describing the school strike and the union protest announced for Monday as an orchestrated attack against the government ahead of presidential elections.

"Those who will be involved in that have nothing to do with teachers. We are not naive, this is an attempt to exploit an unfair system of job complexity indices. We are aware of that and we will fight back."

More news about the school strike can be found in the Politics section.