Minister: Pay rise for teachers a “priority”

Photo: Filip Jandourek

Teachers have for years been the lowest paid professional people in the Czech Republic. Hoping to rectify that situation at least somewhat, they are now demanding a salary increase of at least 10 percent from next year. The finance minister is being circumspect about how much more they can expect but does say he regards teachers’ pay as a “priority”.

Photo: Filip Jandourek
Schoolteachers in the Czech Republic earn on average CZK 23,600 a month net. That is nearly CZK 5,000 less than the national average monthly salary.

They are by some distance the worst paid qualified professionals in the country, with the poor remuneration also resulting in a situation where men are markedly under-represented in the country’s classrooms.

Now with the economy doing well and raises being won in other sectors, educators are also pushing for more money.

Teachers have the support of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who says it is clear that they are massively undervalued in terms of pay.

The Social Democrat leader has previously said that they and other school staff should (along with medics) get rises of 10 percent from January 2017.

Andrej Babiš,  photo: CTK
By contrast, ANO’s minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, has argued for a rise of 5 percent, tops.

However, after a meeting with teachers’ leaders on Thursday, he refused to be drawn on numbers – and said underpaid tax collectors should be placed in the same bracket as educators.

“I won’t speak about percentage. I’m speaking about a strategy in which, finally, we should differentiate between individual professions and increase average salaries where they are lowest. I think teachers and employees of the tax administration should get a higher rise than everybody else.”

Mr. Babiš said that such pay increases were a “priority”.

Teachers’ leader František Dobšík is demanding a rise of at least 10 percent from next year. Wearing a t-shirt reading “The end of cheap teachers”, he also spoke to reporters after Thursday’s meeting with the finance minister.

František Dobšík,  photo: CTK
“He is prepared to support teachers as a priority and is for a pay increase. He didn’t question our assertion that teachers are the lowest paid university graduates… And we explained to him that if he doesn’t grant rises now, then really the rewards for teachers are absolutely insufficient, which the EU agrees on. He said it was a question of resources and that the government would have to discuss it.”

Mr. Babiš said coalition leaders would chew over the matter next week. He added that budget talks would continue until September, leaving plenty of time for debate.