The EI national affiliate, the Education, Science and Culture Trade Union of Slovenia (ESTUS), has called for strike action by its members on 18 April. The trade union is opposed to an amendment to the 2012 national budget adopted by the Government which includes significant cuts in the budget for education and in public employees’ salaries and also effectively undermines their trade union rights.
In a letter sent on 12 April to EI and EI member organisations, ESTUS General Secretary Branimir Strukelj writes: “About two weeks ago, the Slovenian government forwarded a proposal to balance this year's budget, in which the government proposes serious cuts in expenditure and, especially, in public sector employees’ wages, and undermines their trade union rights. Strukelj deplores the fact that the government wishes to decrease funding for education, culture and science by more than €260 million - €175 million for education alone - representing a 12.2 per cent cut in funding from 2011.
The Slovenian Government decided to save on public education by: increasing the number of students per classroom; raising the required standards for librarians and counsellors; increasing teachers' presence time in schools and kindergarten; raising the required standards for cooks, cleaning staff, and accountants; and merging schools, consequently closing down the smallest ones.
ESTUS brought the issue of a collective strike to vote. The majority of those employed in the fields of education, science and culture decided in favour of participating in a strike to take place on 18 April.
With other public sector trade unions participating in the strike, ESTUS demands that the Government withdraws all unjust measures which are tearing the country apart, lowering the quality of public education, and decreasing public sector employees’ salaries.
In his support letter dated 13 April, and addressed to Slovenian Education Minister, EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, reminds the latter “that education is recognised internationally as a key instrument in any country’s efforts to overcome its economic difficulties. EI and its 400 member organisations throughout the world, believe austere economic measures are not the solution to economic crisis.”
“Increased investment in quality public education is at the heart of any comprehensive solution to the current economic crisis,” he states.
He goes on to emphasise that the proposed cutbacks in the education budget will undermine the quality of national education services and have negative and damaging effects on the education of the children of Slovenia into the future.
Van Leeuwen also states that EI joins with its member organisation, ESTUS, in asking the Minister to rescind the proposed cutbacks and “restore the salary levels and conditions of service of teachers to those which have heretofore underpinned the high quality of the Slovenian education system, as indicated in its Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s ranking.”
To read the full ESTUS letter, please click here
The full EI support letter to ESTUS is available here