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Unions demand big pay rises as the government splashes out on costly new benefit programs.8 April 2019
Thousands of schools across Poland are expected to be closed today as teachers begin a nationwide strike over pay and government education policy.
The Polish Teachers’ Union (ZNP) said up to 80 percent of schools indicated they would support the walkout, Radio Poland reports.
Talks between three teachers’ unions and the government broke down yesterday when the ZNP and another union stuck by their demand for a monthly salary increase of 1,000 zlotys ($265). Teachers’ pay ranges from 3,045 zlotys to 5,603 zlotys a month, Reuters reports.
Teachers are also angry over the government’s education reforms and costly social policies they say have passed them by.
ZNP leader Slawomir Broniarz said the strike would be the biggest in the education sector since 1993.
"We are ready to convince the government that this strike is not only economically motivated, but that this strike is also to defend the quality of education, which has been damaged in recent years," Broniarz said.
Looking ahead to the European Parliament elections in May, the government headed by the nationalist, conservative Law and Justice party (PiS) has announced a wide-ranging social welfare package expected to cost 40 billion zloty, or around 2 percent of GDP.
The deficit stood at just 0.5 percent of GDP in 2018, but could reach 2.8 percent next year, the Fitch rating agency said last week.
Teachers “feel they've been left out of generous benefit schemes aimed at larger families and the elderly – key ruling party constituencies,” Politico says.
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