ZAGREB – Over 20,000 Croatian teachers and their supporters gathered on Monday at the capital’s main square, demanding higher salaries and better working conditions.

 

Early last month, Croatian teachers embarked on “circular strike”, which has seen them striking on different days in different counties. They complain that they are underpaid compared to other workers in the public sector, and are asking a 6.11 percent increase of job complexity indices, which the government has not accepted.

“The strike is the result of many years of dissatisfaction with material and social status, disrespect for our profession; this strike is a struggle for the status of education and our position in it,” Sanja Sprem, head of the Croatian Teachers Union, said at the protest.

A new round of talks between government and unions is underway, with the expectation of a new government proposal. If accepted, unions announce that classes at schools could begin on Thursday.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic told reporters on Monday that he expects the agreement with the teacher’s union to be reached soon.

“I appeal to all unions, union leaders, to take into account that it would be good for children to return to their classes as soon as possible. If the question was whether we heard the message, yes we did,” he said.

Plenkovic emphasized that his government has already raised the salaries for teachers by 11 percent and that salaries would be increased by a total of 18.3 percent if the unions accept the government’s offer.

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