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(en) Poland, Workers Initiative: The general strike in education - the balance after the first week [machine translation]

Date Thu, 18 Apr 2019 08:35:32 +0300


On Monday, April 8, a general strike in the education industry began. By. data of the organizers (the Polish Teachers' Union and the educational structure of the Trade Unions Forum), on the first day, 14,000 joined him. schools and kindergartens for 20.4 thous. all such facilities (or 68%). Everything indicates that this may be the beginning of a longer protest with a range comparable to the teacher mobilization from 1991-1993. Equally serious as in the 1990s can also be his political repercussions. ---- Genesis - a dispute about wages ---- The immediate reason for the strike is the fiasco of pay negotiations that the PNA and FZZ have been running with the government since March this year. They also participated in the educational "Solidarity", but - as in other industries - it broke from the common front and on 7 April signed the agreement in the version proposed by the government. ZNP and FZZ demanded increases in the amount of PLN 1,000 gross for each person employed in education; in the course of the negotiations, however, they declared they were willing to sign the agreement if the government agreed to two increases of 15% in 2019. The government's offer, which was agreed by Solidarity, is a 5% increase in January this year. (already granted) and another 9.6% in September. Beyond, Beata Szydlo also presented a "long-term" plan for increases in 2020-2023, which, however, assumed an increase in the working hours (working time at the table) from 18 to 24 hours, which would mean a reduction in employment by about 20%. The other proposition of consent was not even expressed by the educational Solidarity, which played the role of scoffisher in these negotiations.

The dispute over wages started last year and was a continuation of the conflict between the government - teachers' associations, which broke out in 2017 on the occasion of the reform eliminating the gymnasium. Last year, the Ministry of Education submitted a proposal for increases from PLN 93 (a teacher / ka stazysta / stazystka) to 168 (teacher / certified / certified). The PNA then put forward a counter-proposal - an increase of 15%, which the Ministry of National Education promised to carry out within three years, while in 2018 the increase in remuneration was to amount to 5.35%. Ultimately, the real amount of increases proposed by the Ministry of Education last year amounted to approx. 3.75% (which is not much more than in the wage indexation conducted in 2017 by 2%).

Where did the ZNP and FZZ demands come from? Basic salary of pedagogical staff in the previous year was at the level of 2.4 thousand. brutto (wyklad / ka trainee / trainee) to 3.3 thous. gross (certified teacher) - meaning significantly lower than average wage for work in the economy (4.7 thousand). This prompted the PNA and the FZZ to put forward a "thousand zlotys for everyone" postulate, and because the government refused to implement it - to start preparations for the strike.

Context - deforms education

However, wage issues are not everything: the dispute about pay rises may not be so sharp were it not for the 2017 reduction of gymnasium combined with changes in the Teachers' Charter (defining detailed rules for remuneration of pedagogical staff and equivalent to a collective labor agreement at the level of the entire industry) ). Both changes were pushed through by the Minister of National Education, Anna Zalewska.

As a result of the liquidation of junior high schools in 2017, 6.6 thousand lost their jobs. teachers and teachers (about 1%), but more serious consequences were changes in the Teacher's Charter: liquidation of the flat allowance used by 1/3 of teachers in the country (186,000) and development allowance (one-time benefit in the amount of two-month remuneration essential for teachers with two years of experience after obtaining the degree of contract teacher), extending the basic career progression from 10 to 15 years and abolishing the right to housing for teachers from rural areas and towns up to 5,000. residents and teachers who have retired, pension or so-called "Teacher compensation benefits". In this way the Ministry of Education significantly reduced wages - both by eliminating allowances, as well as extending the path of promotion to successive stages, on which the amount of basic salary depends. A certain form of "compensation" for the above cuts was to be the "500 plus for the teacher" incentive, but it will be directed only to qualified teachers (52% of the school staff) who will receive distinguished marks at work. In addition, the payment of the "500 plus for the teacher" is to start only in 2020 and the amount will initially be PLN 95 - up to PLN 500 will only come in 2022. These proposals - just like those presented in April this year. promises of increases related to the increase in the salary - have been widely perceived by teachers and teachers as promises without coverage and an attempt to delay the problem in time. A certain form of "compensation" for the above cuts was to be the "500 plus for the teacher" incentive, but it will be directed only to qualified teachers (52% of the school staff) who will receive distinguished marks at work. In addition, the payment of the "500 plus for the teacher" is to start only in 2020 and the amount will initially be PLN 95 - up to PLN 500 will only come in 2022. These proposals - just like those presented in April this year. promises of increases related to the increase in the salary - have been widely perceived by teachers and teachers as promises without coverage and an attempt to delay the problem in time. A certain form of "compensation" for the above cuts was to be the "500 plus for the teacher" incentive, but it will be directed only to qualified teachers (52% of the school staff) who will receive distinguished marks at work. In addition, the payment of the "500 plus for the teacher" is to start only in 2020 and the amount will initially be PLN 95 - up to PLN 500 will only come in 2022. These proposals - just like those presented in April this year. promises of increases related to the increase in the salary - have been widely perceived by teachers and teachers as promises without coverage and an attempt to delay the problem in time. In addition, the payment of the "500 plus for the teacher" is to start only in 2020 and the amount will initially be PLN 95 - up to PLN 500 will only come in 2022. These proposals - just like those presented in April this year. promises of increases related to the increase in the salary - have been widely perceived by teachers and teachers as promises without coverage and an attempt to delay the problem in time. In addition, the payment of the "500 plus for the teacher" is to start only in 2020 and the amount will initially be PLN 95 - up to PLN 500 will only come in 2022. These proposals - just like those presented in April this year. promises of increases related to the increase in the salary - have been widely perceived by teachers and teachers as promises without coverage and an attempt to delay the problem in time.

All this, combined with the chaos caused by the reform (overcrowding schools, inconvenient working hours and schools operating on two shifts, etc.) led the government to a heated dispute with trade union structures. Its culminating point was a one-day general strike organized by the PNA on March 31. organized to achieve two demands: 10% pay rise and employment guarantee for all school staff up to 2020. GUS data, around 28 thousand people took part in the strike people. The PNA, however, estimated that strike actions were held in 40% of educational institutions across the country (ie they covered over 8,000 schools). After the strike, no agreement was signed, but Minister Zalewska then promised that the reform would not cause any layoffs (she lied) and she would submit her plans for later.

A general strike in education - the course and dynamics

Everything points to the fact that both the leadership of the two trade unions and the staff of schools and kindergartens who participate in the strike are determined and determined to conduct the strike "to victory". For now, you can observe mass participation in the action and quite large public support for the strike. Secondary school examinations came to fruition, however, only due to changes in the last minute by the Ministry of Education, thanks to which their course was supervised by people with pedagogical qualifications not employed in a given school and catechists, priests and nuns or even prison staff or foresters. In the case of baccalaureate, whose deadline is approaching faster and faster, such maneuver will not be possible to repeat and both the strikers and the government will face a dilemma,

So far it seems that despite the inconvenience for parents and children, the strike has a lot of public support - it can be seen after polls (over half of respondents and respondents declared support for the strike), but also numerous actions and solidarity initiatives - from protests and street pickets, through "strike lectures" organized at universities, to positions and gestures of support from trade union structures operating in other industries. On Friday, April 12, thousands of support for the strike took place across the country; 2 days earlier - on 10 April - under the building of the Ministry of Education in Warsaw, several hundred pupils and students demonstrated their support for the struggle of teachers and teachers under the slogan "student strike"; the trade unions operating at the Warsaw universities also organized support for the strike, Wroclaw and Jagiellonian. The PNA at the University of Warsaw, together with the initiative "University Involved", runs "strike lectures" every day from April 8, in which young people from closed schools take part. The initiatives of ensuring the childcare by the universities during the strike were also issued by the Workers' Initiative committees from Wroclaw and Cracow. The official support of the teachers 'strike was also provided by, among others, the Trade Union of the Board and Aviation Personnel or the Polish Drivers' Union. Finally, on Thursday, April 11, a public fundraising was launched for the strike fund, under which over one million zlotys were collected over a day, and by Saturday of April 13 this amount has grown threefold.

The strike also caused cracks and conflicts in "Solidarity" - in many places the local structures of this union in the education industry either joined the strike against the national authorities' position or even "threw IDs" and resigned from membership - based on media reports, it can be estimated that several hundred people have already left "Solidarity" and perhaps will join other unions.

There is no indication, however, that the teacher mobilization and social support for the strike influenced the attitude of the government - throughout the week the only response to the strike from the Law and Justice was the repetition of the proposal, which was approved by Solidarity. This was accompanied by an aggressive campaign of pro-government media directed mainly against the leader of the ZNP, Slawomir Broniarz and the entire union accused of "communism" or conducting "political protest" (implicitly: on the "order" of the liberal Civic Coalition, whose representatives gave public expression in various ways that they support the strike).

What remains open is how long the government will persevere in this staunch attitude and whether the sympathy of public opinion will not turn away from the strikers. With the next days, fatigue and stress related to upcoming baccalaureate will also grow. There is a risk that this year's strike will end in the same way as the longest educational protest in Poland in 1993.

The history of workers' struggles in education

The ongoing strike is another great mobilization of the education industry, which in Poland repeatedly undertook a strike fight on a mass scale. People accusing ZNP of the fact that "just strikes the PiS, and did nothing when schools were liquidated during the PO-PSL government", however, forget that in May 2008 almost 200,000. employees and employees of the education sector participated in over 12,000 strike actions, which were organized in defense of the Teachers' Charter, the right to early retirement and wage increases. Strikes from 2008 did not last as long as the largest teacher mobilization at the very beginning of the political transformation.

The dispute began with the freezing of wage indexation in the budgetary sphere in 1991, which caused a real decrease in the income of all persons employed in the budget - in the years 1990-1992 salaries fell by 17%, and expenditures on education in general they dropped from 12.8% to 8.9% of total budget expenditure. The freezing of wages was declared unlawful by the Constitutional Tribunal, but the government refused to compensate for wages (according to the law in force they should be indexed - adjusted to the increase in wages in the private sector). The first one-day strikes were organized in 1991 and they were often occupational. In February 1992, due to the lack of reaction of the Olszewski government to the pay demands, a coordinated one-day warning strike at the level of the entire country was already carried out. When this did not help, in February 1993 the PNA entered into a collective dispute, and at the end of March the position supporting the organization of the strike in education in May was adopted by the National Commission of Solidarity. Two increases were demanded - 600,000 old zlotys from April and another 340 thousand since September. The government has planned in the budget 390,000 and 200,000 respectively. On April 22, a warning strike took place, in which 81.3% of branches participated (according to ZNP data) - but this did not lead the government to change its position, and therefore on 4 May an indefinite general strike in education began, as a result of which the Matura exams 1993 took place with considerable delay. The strike from 1993 lasted until May 24 and finally ended in defeat - teachers and teachers failed to win the postulated increases. Finally, their salaries have increased by

The strike of 1993 was not successful in terms of wages, but it was the beginning of workers' protests in other sectors of the budgetary sphere (including health care), which ultimately led to the vote of no confidence in the government of Hanna Suchocka and the creation of new parliamentary elections, as a result of which the "post-Solidarity" camp lost power, and won the Democratic Left Alliance, which eased the draconian policy of budget savings.

Jakub Grzegorczyk

http://ozzip.pl/teksty/publicystyka/walki-pracownicze/item/2473-strajk-generalny-w-edukacji-bilans-pierwszego-tygodnia
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