Slovakia: Unionists strike over unacceptable budget proposal
The Trade Union of Workers in Education and Science of Slovakia (OZ PŠaV), one of EI’s national affiliates, embarked on a one-day strike on 13 September. It is dissatisfied with the Government’s 2013 budget proposal and fiscal roadmap for 2014-15, which do not address the presently unsustainable situation in education.
OZ PŠaV calls on the national authorities to boost Slovakia’s 2013-15 education budget through the introduction of a systematic increase in funding, so that by the end of the present government’s term the share of GDP allocated to education will be comparable to other EU countries. At present, Slovakia’s education budget is less than 4 per cent of national GDP, including the support from EU structural funds. The trade union is also demanding an increase in teaching and non-teaching staff’s real wages as well as a revision of the remuneration in education so that teaching staff’s pay will reach between 120 and 200 per cent of the average wage in Slovakia.
“We expect that pre-schools, elementary and secondary schools will be closed on 13 September,” OZ PŠaV President Pavel Ondek explained. “We decided to call a one-day warning strike after failed negotiations with the Ministry of Education and as a response to the 2013 budget proposal. In Slovakia, a beginning teacher’s gross income starts at €508 per month.”
He deplored “the demands which we voiced at a demonstration on 13 September 2011, exactly a year ago, have not been met. We were asking that the Government commits to boosting educational funding over the course of this term and to make educational spending, as share of GDP, more comparable to other EU countries.”
ETUCE support letter
EI’s European region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), has sent a support letter to OZ PŠaV:
“Your government’s 2013 budget proposal – and the fiscal roadmap for 2014/15 – do not address the presently unsustainable situation in education,” the letter reads. “The ETUCE fully supports your demands of introducing a systematic increase in education funding.”
It also states that the Government of Slovakia must recognize the value of education and reconsider their allocation of resources even in times of crisis: “The future of your country depends on high quality education. Those who secure this future – the teachers and education employees – must be supported in their efforts. Slovakia’s 2013 education budget pays a disservice to your nation and shows a disregard for the teaching profession. Everyone – not just your members – should rise up against this injustice on 13 September 2012.”
Government must invest in education
“In Slovakia, as well as in other countries in Europe or globally, Governments confronted with a severe economic and financial crisis make the unwise decision to cut spending in public services, especially education,” condemned EI European Director Martin Rømer. “We denounce this situation, and stand in solidarity with our Slovakian colleagues, as we strongly believe that education is actually the key to recovery.”
The ETUCE support letter can be read in its entirety here
OZPSaV Slovakia recently began a vigorous campaign to raise the status and pay of teachers and education employees in meetings with state and government officials.You can watch the campaign video here