Slovak teachers plan new protest as Bratislava takes over EU presidency

By bne IntelliNews June 30, 2016

Slovak teachers plan to protest on July 1, the day on which the Central European country takes over the EU’s rotating presidency.

The announcement sees workers in the education sector resume a series of protests. However, there has been little action since mass strikes shook Slovakia just ahead of general elections in March. The protests are seen as a major element in the surprising drop in support for Smer. The party, however, just managed to cling on to enough votes to put together a shaky coalition.

Slovak teachers complain that the new government has not met their demands for higher pay and added resources for the education sector. The government has also ignored calls by the European Commission and the OECD to increase funding to the sector in order to make the teaching profession more attractive, Branislav Kocan, spokesman for the Initiative of Slovak teachers said, according to SME.

In case the government continues to ignore teachers’ demands, a strike might be called in September, Kocan adds. Prime Minister Robert Fico - who is still recovering from major heart surgery earlier this year - already has his work cut out during Slovakia's EU presidency in being required to help to steer the EU through Brexit.

Teachers are clearly aware of the building pressure on Bratislava, and hope to take advantage. Discontent among health care sector professionals also likely contributed to the poor showing of Fico’s Smer in the March polls. Although the centre-left party won 28.4% of the vote, the largest share of any party, in the 2012 contest it had captured 44.4%.

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