Fico: We Look Teachers Straight in Eye, Ask for Understanding

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Prime Minister Robert Fico (TASR archive)

Bratislava, January 26 (TASR) – The Slovak Government is looking teachers straight in the eye, Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Tuesday in response to the ongoing teachers strike.

Fico pointed out that in 2012-16 alone, teacher salaries saw a hike of 22 percent, representing the highest growth in public administration. “No other public administration profession had their salaries raised in the period as much as the teachers. If we add another 26 percent under the [first Fico’s] government of 2006-10, our two governments together increased teacher salaries almost by 50 percent. During the government of Iveta Radicova, there were zero hikes. The trustworthiness rests unequivocally with us,” said Fico.
    The Prime Minister is asking teachers for their understanding, noting that there are other people in Slovakia with requests and claims as well and other projects, to which the state must allocate resources. He pledged that if Smer-SD forms part of another government following the March 2016 general election, the plan is to continue with teacher salary hikes.
Fico underlined that his Government has always respected and will respect the right to strike. “We’ve undertaken no legal action against the strike, contrary to the way the current opposition did against the strike of railway workers while in power. This strike calls into question a great deal of legal, political and social dialogue issues. But we accept it as a fact and respect it,” said Fico.
Fico pointed that out of 6,724 schools total, 179 or 2.66 percent were closed on Monday (January 25). “There were also some kindergartens among them, yet these have nothing to do with the state, as they’re linked directly to mayors. Hence, 151 schools or 2.25 percent took part in the strike today,” he concluded.