Over 20,000 striking teachers rally in Zagreb to demand higher wages


Over 20,000 teachers from throughout Croatia gathered in Zagreb's main square at noon on Monday to demand a 6.11 percent increase of job complexity indices, carrying banners saying "All we want for Xmas is 6.11", "This is not a strike, this is a reform" and "Striking for life."

Teachers’ unions have been on strike for 31 days. Initially, the strike was organised on a rotating basis, taking place every day in different counties, while a general strike began last Tuesday. Teachers are demanding a 6.11 percent increase of job complexity indices to close the wage gap with other public services.

All government offers were rejected, including a base wage increase of 6.12 percent as of next year on a 2+2+2 basis and an analysis of wages in the public sector to compare job complexity indices for employees in the primary, secondary and tertiary education and science sector. If the system of job complexity indices is not regulated by the end of June next year, the government would provide a wage supplement of 2 percent.

The leader of the secondary school teachers’ union, Branimir Mihalinec, said on Friday after a meeting between the government and the unions that they were getting closer to a solution, but did not elaborate.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Monday morning he expected an agreement would be reached with striking teachers’ unions in the afternoon.

“Talks will be held this afternoon after the protest rally. I appeal to all unions, union leaders, to take into account that it would be good for children to return to their classes as soon as possible. If the question was whether we heard the message, yes we did,” Plenkovic told the press earlier on Monday.

“I think we have a solution. It aims to ensure that children go to school, that teachers are satisfied, and that this whole story ends in such a way that we can all say that we have improved the system,” Plenkovic said. He would not discuss details of the government's latest offer.

Mihalinec said before the protest rally on Monday if an agreement were to be reached today, it would be put to a referendum among the membership in the next two days, and if it were endorsed, the strike would be ended and school classes would resume on Thursday.