Labour Minister Josip Aladrovic told education unions which protested outside the government on Wednesday that the government was trying to find a solution to their demands, and pledged that a redesign of the pay system in the public sector would create a fairer and more objective evaluation of their work.
"We will try and find a solution together. I hope everyone understands how complex the system is and what the possibilities of the government are. We can understand that certain sectors are unhappy with the current status but we can promise that, by redesigning the pay system, we will enable a fairer and more objective system," he said.
During the protest, he held a negotiation meeting with public sector unions on the base pay and material rights in 2020.
He said that as the ministry analysed the pay system in the next six months, salaries in education and other public services would go up by raising the base pay by 6.12% in three rounds, at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of 2020. If the pay system is not fully regulated by the end of June 2020, the job complexity index for teachers would go up 2%.
In light of that, Aladrovic said he expected the strike in schools to end soon. "We hope it ends. A strike is not pleasant, either for pupils or parents, and certainly not for the negotiating parties. We took a very clear stand on strikers' demands. We expect the strike to end in a reasonable time."
The minister said the government was "clearly showing care for all public sector employees." "In the new pay system, we will clearly define the criteria of how much somebody earns and the job complexity indices in the public sector. That's... a solution to this problem."
Protesting education unions: We have no right to give up!
"You have become a hope for Croatian citizens, an example to our children and pupils that it's worth fighting for a better tomorrow. Unity is what brought us here today. Together, we have no right to give up. We must show everyone in the country that it's worth fighting for a better education and a better country," Sanja Sprem, president of the Croatian Teachers Union, said at the protest which drew 2,000 participants.
She said the message from the government was that there was money for everyone except for resolving problems in education. "Education workers and all employees in the education system don't need your morsels. We want Croatia to be a country of knowledge, not a country of hopelessness."
Sprem said she was receiving daily messages from teachers to persevere in pressuring the government to resolve the problem of lower salaries in education. "The education reform did not begin with a reform of relations towards those in charge of education," Sprem underlined receiving a loud applause from protesters.