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School workers’ union on strike alert over low wages

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Prague, Sept 5 (CTK) – The Czech school workers’ union declared strike alert yesterday in protest against the government coalition repeatedly postponing its decision on raising the wages of teachers and other professions in the school sector, the union’s chairman Frantisek Dobsik told journalists.

On Monday, the government parties’ representatives said they want to raise teachers’ pay but they failed to agree on how much and as of when.

Teachers are going to prepare a strike, Dobsik said.

The union insists on its demand that teachers’ pay rise by 15 percent and that non-teaching professions’ by 10 percent as of November.

This would require additional costs of 13 billion crowns.

Other trade unions support the teachers’ action. Josef Stredula, who heads the umbrella Bohemian and Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions (CMKOS), said it will decide in 24 hours on whether to join the teachers union’s strike alert.

The pay rise has been discussed within the debate on the 2018 state budget bill.

In his draft state budget, Finance Minister Ivan Pilny (ANO) has earmarked 12 billion crowns for raising the wages in the whole public sector, which is not enough to meet employees’ demands.

None of the three government parties is willing to raise the previously set draft budget deficit of 50 billion crowns.

The parties have called the unions to stay calm and continue the dialogue. According to Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD), a decision on a pay increase can be expected by the end of September.

First of all, the coalition parties want to agree on how to gain the money for teachers’ pay increase, and only afterwards the timing will be discussed.

The parties differ on whether to raise the wages as of November or as of January 2018.

Experts have long criticised too low wages of teachers in the Czech Republic.

The unions want the wages of elementary and secondary school teachers to reach 130 percent of the country’s average wage, which stands about 29,300 crowns, by 2020.

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