Polish teachers on strike
PR dla Zagranicy
Teachers unhappy at government plans for sweeping education reforms held strikes across Poland on Friday.
Sławomir Broniarz. Photo: PAP/Tomasz Gzell
The head of the Polish Teachers’ Union (ZNP), Sławomir Broniarz, said, citing preliminary estimates, that 37 percent of schools and nurseries - around 6,500 in total -took part in the strike. But the education ministry said only 11 percent of schools took part.
The ZNP is Poland’s biggest teachers’ union, with some 240,000 members.
The union is demanding assurances that until 2022 neither teachers nor other school employees will be made redundant, and that their pay will not be cut. They also want a salary hike.
Prime Minister Beata Szydło told Polish Radio: “Political demands cannot be implemented at the expense of children.” She added: “The strike organizers, the heads of the union, are politically engaged.”
Deputy education minister Marzena Machałek claimed the "absolute" majority of teachers and parents do not support the strike.
She said that plans for pay rises for teachers would be unveiled in April, adding that teachers would be "satisfied".
Public broadcaster TVP reported that many schools support education reforms introduced by the government.
Polish MPs gave the green light to wide-ranging changes in education late last year.
Under a new law, as of 1 September, students will attend eight years of primary school and four years of high school or five years of vocational school.
This will replace a system of six-year primary school, three-year middle school and three-year high school.
Last year, thousands of teachers and parents took to the streets in protest amid concerns that a new curriculum had not been set and fears that the reforms could see tens of thousands of teachers lose their jobs.
However, Prime Minister Szydło has promised that no teachers would be out of work because of the changes. (pk)