ZAGREB (Reuters) - Thousands of striking primary and secondary school teachers and their supporters demonstrated in the Croatian capital Zagreb on Monday to press demands for wage hikes of just over 6%.
Teachers launched a nationwide walkout on Nov. 19 in an escalation of industrial action meant to force the government to start talks on wage rises, saying their roles are undervalued compared with those of other public sector employees.
Monday’s protest, held under the slogan “Croatia must do better”, gathered teachers from across the newest European Union member state as well as many supporters.
“This is the fight for a better future of our children. Our education (system) has been neglected. We have been quiet for too long. This strike is for dignity and better education in our country ,” Sanja Sprem, leader of one of the two main teachers’ unions, told the crowd in Zagreb’s main central square.
Teachers began selective, rotating walkouts on Oct. 10 before escalating their action into a general strike last week.
The conservative-led government says the strike is unjustified since it announced last month a 6.12% wage hike for all public sector employees from next year.
Government and union representatives met on Friday in a first serious attempt to resolve their differences.
Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Mark Heinrich