Eighty-five percent of secondary school teachers and 89% of teachers in primary schools went on strike on Thursday, the two largest school unions have reported.
Secondary schools' union leader Branimir Mihalinec said that this was not the complete data as the Carnet internet service, which provides that information, had collapsed.
"Even people who are not union members have joined the strike. Today we have a frontal attack. More than a thousand institutions and virtually all those employed in the education system are on strike," Mihalinec told a press conference.
He sent a message to Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, who on Wednesday said that "it was not clear to him why teachers were on strike," saying that numbers show that teachers clearly know why they are on strike.
Sanja Sprem of the SHU primary schools' union said that the government certainly needs to be concerned considering the initial number of teachers on strike.
"Their response is a clear indicator that all employees in the education system are united in their demands and (support) our initiative and wish to increase the job complexity index. Employees very well know what they are fighting for. This concerns their status in society and this is a fight for their personal dignity," said Sprem.
Strike to continue in four counties tomorrow
Considering that the teachers' union action is a rotating strike, which means that the strike is being held in the entire country on this first day, after which it will be held in different counties each day, the unions announced that the strike would continue tomorrow in Split-Dalmatia, Dubrovnik-Neretva, Medjimurje and Varazdin counties.
Mihalinec explained that in the first stage of the strike, students would miss school two out of ten days.
Mihalinec: We are prepared for talks with the prime minister
Mihalinec underscored that the prime minister had been informed of their demand for the job complexity index to be increased by 6.11% for teachers with a university degree.
"The response to that was an agreement on bonuses. (The government) considers that that is the same thing and is now surprised," Mihalinec said and added that the government had not invested even one lipa in teaching staff during the educational reform process.
"Investments have been made in buildings, fences, smart boards but not in the people. It's time now for the people. The people want their value to be confirmed," he said.
He said that the unions had not spoken with the prime minister since Wednesday but that they were open for talks and that if the PM wanted to meet with the unions, he could send them an amended job complexity index regulation and the unions would call off their strike.
"No matter how hard we try, we cannot find one reason why we should concede to a lower index, because (our demand for a higher index) is just. Our activities will continue until we achieve that index," Mihalinec concluded.