Prague, Sept 24 (CTK) – Czech school workers’ unions have declared strike alert over their dissatisfaction with next year’s pay increase offered to them by the state, union leader Frantisek Dobsik said today, while Education Minister Robert Plaga (ANO) called the unions’ reaction destructive.
The unions failed to push through their pay demands at a meeting with Plaga earlier today. Plaga proposed that the monthly base wage of all teachers be raised by 2,250 crowns, and that a further sum be earmarked for monthly bonuses worth an average 1,400 crowns for a teacher.
The average monthly gross salary of a teacher was 36,224 crowns in the first quarter of this year compared to the national average of 32,466 crowns in the same period.
Originally, the unions demanded a 15-percent increase in teachers’ pay. They eventually nodded to a 10-percent increase on condition that all additional money be added to teachers’ base pay, while Plaga proposed a 5-percent increase in the base pay and a 5-percent increase in the sum designated for bonuses.
Later Plaga came up with the proposal to raise all teachers’ pay by a fixed sum, 1,750 crowns, and he raised it to 2,250 crowns today.
Unions and also employers demand a steeper increase in teachers’ wages.
“It is a political signal about the failure to reach agreement,” Dobsik said about the strike alert decision.
“We want to find a solution. It is up to the government. Let’s wait to see if the negotiations progress towards a successful outcome,” Dobsik said, adding that the unions are ready to “discontinue the operation of schools” if needed.
Teachers’ wages are raised by a government directive. The cabinet of ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) is to discuss the relevant draft directive for 2020 soon.
The trade unions will decide on a strike on the basis of the government’s decision on this directive.
Plaga said the proposed flat across-the-board increase of 2,250 crowns is 1.5 times higher than the planned increase in other civil servants’ basic pay, which is to go up by 1,500 crowns as of January.
Babis’s cabinet is fulfilling its policy statement by the proposed pay rise, Plaga added.
The cabinet previously promised to gradually raise teachers’ wages so that they reach an average 45,000 crowns in 2021, which is 150 percent of the sum they earned in 2017.
School workers’ union deputy chairwoman Marketa Seidlova said the government had declared education and the school system its priority, but does not seem to approach it accordingly in a situation where a teacher’s average wage makes up 110 percent of the country’s average wage at the most.
The wages in other branches have also been rising steeply, she said.
Plaga also pointed out that not only the teachers’ base pay, but also their bonuses should rise and that principals should be able to better remunerate high-quality teachers.
Representatives of the unions and employers said they believe that lawmakers may still modify the 2020 budget bill while debating it in parliament and transfer more money to the schools chapter in support of teachers.
The draft state budget for 2020 also plans a rise in the salaries of non-teaching school employees, such as caretakers, whose average monthly pay was 19,359 crowns in the first quarter of this year. Their pay is to increase by 10 percent on average year-on-year as of January, Plaga said.