Deputy Prime Minister Predrag Stromar, member of the Croatian People's Party (HNS), said on Thursday that Science and Education Minister Blazenka Divjak had the party's support and that he hoped that the Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic would not relieve her of her duties.
“Minister Divjak has the support of the HNS. She has done a great deal in these two and a half years. We are forgetting the extent of the reform that has been done as well as that the European Commission says that this is the biggest reform we are implementing,” Stromar said at a press conference in Zagreb.
On Tuesday, Divjak held a press conference in which she called for dialogue between Prime Minister Plenkovic and the education-sector unions, who have been striking for nearly a month now. The strike, initially organised on a rotating schedule taking place in different counties each day, became nation-wide on Wednesday, with the unions saying it will continue until the teachers’ demands to raise their job complexity index to 6.11 percent are met.
The unions refused all government offers so far, including the last one which consisted of a 6.12 precent increase in the base pay next year, an analysis of wages in the public sector, including job complexity indices, and an agreement on a wage supplement of 2 percent if the government fails to amend the regulation on job complexity indices by June 30 next year.
On Wednesday, the representatives of all three education-sector unions met with Divjak, in yet another attempt to come to an agreement on how to make up for time lost during the strike, with no result.
Asked whether she would step down after the talks had fallen through, Divjak said that she had been constructive and consistent in her work and that she would remain in her post as long as she could see that the problems could be solved and she could make a contribution.
Children’s Ombudswoman Helenca Pirnat Dragicevic said on Wednesday that the ongoing teachers’ strike violated children’s right to regular education, as guaranteed by the Croatian Constitution and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and she called on those involved to agree on social peace and to resolve the current situation.
One of the union leaders, Branimir Mihalinec, yesterday rejected any responsibility by union leaders for damage done to students, who have been out of school because of the strike, and shifted the responsibility to the Prime Minister.
Stromar on Thursday said that he did not believe Plenkovic would replace Divjak, who was put forward for the position of Education Minister by the HNS, a partner in the ruling coalition.
“No, Minister Divjak will remain in her position,” he said.