School unions to protest during EPP congress and in Zagreb's main square

School unions to protest during EPP congress and in Zagreb's main square

School unions to protest during EPP congress and in Zagreb's main square Izvor: N1

Primary and secondary school unions on Tuesday announced a general strike until their demands were met and protest rallies during a European People's Party congress in Zagreb this week as well as outside the government offices and in the capital's main square.

The unions announced daily protests, the first one on Wednesday, when the EPP will meet in the Arena sports centre.

Independent Union of Secondary School Employees president Branimir Mihalinec told reporters the police banned them from protesting near the Sheraton hotel, where the congress guests will stay, and around Arena for security reasons.

Union activists will therefore organise the "Honk your horn for education" drive by standing at intersections between the hotel and the sports centre from 1 to 2 pm, carrying banners and urging drivers to support them. Unionists will protest at intersections in other parts of the country as well.

Mihalinec announced a protest rally outside the offices of the ruling HDZ party, a smaller one in the main square on Thursday and a big one outside the government offices next Monday.

Yesterday, the Croatian Teachers' Union and the Independent Union of Secondary School Employees unanimously decided to embark on a general strike across the country until their demands were met.

"Today is the first day of the (general) strike, which is taking place under the government's threat that it will not pay for the days spent striking. This is the response of the employees in the education system. The same will happen tomorrow and until our demands are met," Mihalinec said.

He said the strike had become "a fight for dignity, for status and to make up for the lagging behind of salaries in education."

At a referendum, union members and strikers rejected the government's latest offer. In secondary schools, the turnout was nearly 13,000 members, with 96% rejecting the offer and 93% voting for continuing the strike until their demands were met. In primary schools, the turnout was over 31,000, of whom 96.7% rejected the offer.

The government is offering a 6.12% base pay increase in 2020, an analysis of salaries in the public sector, including of job complexity indices, and an agreement on a 2% pay increase if the government does not amend the regulation on wage indices by June 30, 2020.

The education unions demand a 6.11% raise of the job complexity index so that they do not lag behind other public services.

Mihalinec said they would accept any government invitation to negotiations and that if the government banned the strike, they would not strike illegally but would continue to fight using other union mechanisms.

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