School Unions in Czech Republic Activate Strike Committees Amidst Budget Dispute

The Školské odbory (School Unions) in the Czech Republic have initiated strike committees and are calling for the creation of more committees. The unions assert that the education section in the draft state budget is underfunded, leading to the potential for a strike.

Markéta Seidlová, the deputy chairwoman of the unions, expressed that the situation is critical, and the activation of strike committees, as well as the formation of new ones, is necessary. The unions perceive the situation as on the verge of a strike.

František Dobšík, the head of the school unions, highlighted that the chapter related to regional education, encompassing preschools, primary schools, and secondary schools, has seen an increase of only 1.3 billion Czech crowns according to the current proposal. Consequently, teachers will not achieve the promised target of receiving 130 percent of the average salary in the upcoming year.

Furthermore, salaries of non-teaching staff, including cooks, custodians, cleaners, economists, and IT administrators, are slated to decrease by two percent. Pedagogical staff, such as teaching assistants, educators, special educators, and school psychologists, are also at risk of a two percent wage cut. Dobšík estimated that this would result in a loss of four to nine billion crowns.

The potential budget cuts will pose challenges for school principals, who will need to decide how to address the situation. The unions reject division between teaching and non-teaching staff, emphasizing the need to find solutions that consider the well-being of all personnel.

Currently, funding is not secured for 17,000 positions among non-teaching staff, out of a total of approximately 48,000 positions in schools. The budgetary constraints have the potential to significantly impact the livelihoods of non-teaching staff members.

Discussions are ongoing regarding the nature of the potential strike. The unions are firm in their stance that they will not take children hostage, asserting that it is the government that is adversely affecting children’s education. The unions contend that the cuts in education will diminish the quality of teaching, limiting options such as tandem teaching, where two teachers instruct together in one class, and impeding the division of classes into smaller groups, particularly for subjects like mathematics.

Dobšík intends to negotiate with the Minister of Education to demand the four to nine billion Czech crowns necessary to address the budget shortfall.

Article by Prague Forum

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