Unions: Strike Wednesday will hit most Czech schools

František Dobšík, photo: ČTK/Kateřina Šulová

Due to a strike many Czech schools are set to close on Wednesday, while others will have limited service. Teachers unions have called the one-day walkout after a breakdown in pay talks, though government officials argue that salaries are increasing significantly.

Jaroslav Faltýnek,  photo: Filip Jandourek / Czech Radio
Czech teachers’ unions are demanding a 10-percent rise in the basic pay of educators and other school staff from the start of 2020.

However, last week ANO Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Robert Plaga, his party’s minister of education, agreed an increase of 8 percent.

This led a number of unions to declare a one-day strike this coming Wednesday.

The head of the ANO deputies’ group, Jaroslav Faltýnek, told Czech Television there was no cause for such a step.

“Somebody is organising a strike and I don’t understand it. We said in our manifesto, and in the coalition deal, that in 2021 the average salary would be CZK 40,000. And we have been headed toward that with gradual pay rises of 10 percent. Next year the increase will be 8 percent of basic pay, plus another 2 percent by which principals can reward the best teachers.”

For their part, the opposition Pirates want educators’ salaries to be linked to certain economic indicators, says the party’s Jakub Michálek.

“There are no systematic rules in place. What we are seeing is the creation of pseudo-issues, instead of the establishment of a system in which pay in these sectors would increase depending on how salaries increase and how the state’s tax revenues increase.”

On Monday the head of the Bohemian and Moravian Trade Union for Workers in Education, František Dobšík, appeared in front of reporters, explaining the body’s pay gripes on a whiteboard.

“First and foremost, we want to apologise to the public and to parents for the fact we are going to complicate their lives to a greater or lesser degree on Wednesday. But unfortunately after the bungled negotiations, which were not botched by our side – in our view, the Ministry of Education is not willing to fulfill the promises it made – we decided to interrupt our work.”

František Dobšík,  photo: ČTK/Kateřina Šulová
Mr. Dobšík’s deputy, Markéta Seidlová, said Minister Plaga had falsely claimed to have fought for higher pay for teachers.

“Schools have begun saying they will join the strike, though we don’t have exact figures as of yet. Our aim is definitely not to create a situation where children would turn up to school on Wednesday and there would be nobody to look after them. Our aim is to make it clear that we don’t agree with the approach of the minister, who has negotiated with us on an increase in basic pay as if he were horse-trading at a market.”

Ms. Seidlova added that there were indications from the regions that over half of the country’s schools would be affected on Wednesday.