Education workers strike for higher wages in Slovenia

Teachers and education workers protest for better conditions but the government insists meeting their demands would push the country back into recession
AFP

Ljubljana (AFP) – A one-day strike closed the doors of 95 percent of kindergartens, schools, secondary schools and universities in Slovenia on Wednesday, as employees demanded higher wages and better working conditions.

The strike is the fourth organised by a public sector union in the last month. Healthcare workers and policemen are among the other groups to have taken action.

Thousands of teachers, professors and kindergarten employees protested in central Ljubljana to press their demands after years of austerity.

“The state does not value our work, it pays us badly and less than others,” Branimir Strukelj, head of the main education union SVIZ, told demonstrators.

Some 20,000 people attended the rally, according to public Radio Slovenija.

Strukelj, whose union represents some 40,000 employees, said a new strike would be called for March 14 unless the government meets strikers’ demands inside a three-week deadline.

Slovenia imposed austerity measures, including cuts to pensions and public sector wages, following a recession in 2012 and 2013 stemming from problems in its banking sector.

Even though its recovery has been proceeding apace, with GDP growth for 2017 forecast at 4.9 percent by the OECD, the government has said it cannot meet the strikers’ demands which it says would risk tipping the country back into recession.

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