Lithuania : Scope and militancy of teachers’ strike shakes the ruling class

Dec. 28, 2018

Lithuania is being shaken by an unprecedented teachers strike, which has now entered its fourth week and is causing severe anxiety, distress and panic among the ruling class and its political representatives. Already, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis has been forced to sack not only the hated Education Minister, Petrauskienė, but also two other Ministers: for Culture, and the Environment.

The lingering mess this right-wing government finds itself in has been matched by the increased militancy of the teachers’ movement. Since the strike began, it has extended from 40 to over 100 schools and adopted militant tactics Lithuania hasn’t seen for decades. Importantly, it has been greeted with warm and enthusiastic sympathy by the broader mass of the population. If it continues, it could even lead to the fall of the current government.

How and why did this happen? The teachers’ demands revolve mainly around new so-called “reforms”, which represent a serious attack on the working conditions of teachers across Lithuania. The government proposes introducing a new model based on “tenure”, through which the teachers would be forced to record every little task by the minute in order to earn their wages. Concretely, this means that the teachers would be forced to work more for less. The government is running a tight deficit, and its plan was to use this so-called “reform” to mercilessly make the working class pay for the crisis of capitalism. Andrius Navickas, chairman of the Lithuanian Education Employees Trade Union (LŠDPS) states:

What’s been introduced is not a tenure pay system, and teachers’ hourly pay has been replaced with minute pay as school principals and teachers are now forced to meticulously evaluate every small job of theirs and also plan them for the whole upcoming year, so they are now already calculating minutes, not only hours.

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