Fico Urges Teachers to Resume Classes, Rules out Funding Decisions

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Prime Minister Robert Fico (TASR archive)

Bratislava, February 3 (TASR) – According to Prime Minister Robert Fico, the time has come for teachers still on strike to go back to their pupils and students, TASR learnt at a press briefing in Bratislava on Wednesday.

Fico was encapsulating what was presented as the final opinion of the Government and Parliament regarding the wildcat strike of teachers. “It’s time to resume classes and hold rational discussions as to what will be done after the parliamentary election,” he added.

“There was a 19-day break during Christmas … ski trips are now under way, and a spring holiday is coming up. It’s no good leaving pupils without proper classes … it may have an adverse effect on them,” said Fico.

The premier also made it clear that no decisions on the funding of the education sector and the salaries of teachers will be made prior to the general election on March 5.

“After all that’s happened, it’s impossible to adopt decisions of a financial nature before March 5,” said Fico. On the other hand, he pledged readiness to meet the representatives of teachers and talk about issues such as the contents of the national education programme.

He went on to express his conviction that teachers have taken on board the fact that the incumbent Government has increased the salaries of teachers by 22 percent in total between 2012-16. “Nobody else in the state sector has seen their salaries increased by as much. During Iveta Radicova’s Government (2010-12), a fat zero emerged from negotiations. If we’re part of a coalition after the election, we’ll continue to increase the salaries of teachers. We have resources to raise their salaries by at least 25 percent during the next term,” said the premier.

Meanwhile, he gave thanks to the vast majority of teachers who stuck to their timetables despite the strike, as well as those who eventually went back to their pupils and students. “Classes are now being held in as much as 99 percent of schools. Of 6,700 schools in total, 47 were involved in the strike on Wednesday, which is less than one percent. At no point were more than two percent of schools involved,” he added.