Government is offering teachers a 2% pay raise this year and an additional 2% in June of 2020. Teachers say they will continue their strike until they get the 6% they are demanding.
At Thursday's cabinet session Prime Minister Andrej Plenković expressed his regret over the strike, but also argued that there is no justified or rational reason for the strike, noting that government had offered teachers a 4% pay raise, 2% now and an additional 2% in June of next year.
"It seems to me that going on strike after having been offered 4 of the 6 percent pay raise you're demanding is a little excessive. That is not a will to compromise but a will to obstruct. We have enough experience to be able to make a clear distinction between what is logical and normal and what is over the top. So be it. We are here to talk, and I am hopeful that common sense will prevail in the end. It always does, regardless of these minor turbulences," the prime minister said.
To further complicate the issue, the HNS – a junior partner in the HDZ-led coalition government, announced on Wednesday night that it would withdraw from the coalition unless teacher’s wages are increased by 4% in 2020. Labour and Pension System Minister Josip Aladrović responded to the HNS's demands ahead of Thursday’s cabinet session. "We have stated very clearly that we do not accept ultimatums and will not negotiate through ultimatums. Obviously, we are always open to holding general talks."
For his part Finance Minister Zdravko Marić reminded that government is committed to a responsible fiscal policy and to not spending more than it has. "You know that from the first year of this government's mandate, through negotiations with unions, sometimes more or less successful, their base salaries have risen by more than 11%. But I repeat all of this has been in line with our commitment to the responsible use of tax payer money and public finances, meaning within the realm of what is possible."
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