Indefinite teachers strike in Slovakia has started

Indefinite teachers strike in Slovakia has started

Teachers in Slovakia have begun an indefinite strike today. They demand higher wages, more money to be invested into education and changes in the system of teachers’ further education. The strike is organized by the Initiative of Slovak Teacher (ISU; www.isu.sk) which is an independent network of teachers regardless of union affiliation.

Today a demonstration took place in Bratislava despite bad rainy weather with around 1500-2000 teachers, pupils and supporters present. Among the speakers there were strike committee members as well as representatives of the doctors’ union, nurses and obstetricians (who gave notices en masse at the end of November 2015 to fight for higher wages; next week the notice period ends for several hundreds of those who have stood the enormous intimidation and harassment until now) and a few public figures on the part of the parents.

Protesters later moved from a square in the center to the building of the parliament where the protest ended.

There were around 300 schools closed and some hundreds in limited operation today (there are around 5000 schools in Slovakia). More than 11 000 teachers took part from over 720 elementary, primary and secondary schools altogether.

Priama akcia (IWA Slovakia)

Source (+photos): http://www.priamaakcia.sk/Indefinite-teachers-strike-in-Slovakia-has-sta...

You will find more information about events that led to the strike in the next External bulletin of the International Workers’ Association.

Posted By

MT
Jan 25 2016 20:45

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MT
Jan 31 2016 21:06
Quote:
Do you have any ideas that you would propose?

That was a serious question because clearly ISU doesn't know how to use it more to their advantage.

I will not comment on other things, as I would just repeat myself. I am surprised that you found offenses in my post, none were intended. Sorry for that anyway.

jura
Jan 31 2016 22:28
MT wrote:
That was a serious question because clearly ISU doesn't know how to use it more to their advantage.

Well I thought they would organize at least a common demonstration (although probably not in Bratislava, where the nurses haven't managed to get much support, but perhaps in Žilina and Prešov).

But I think an interesting common topic would be nursing schools (I mean high schools for nurses), which I think is what really connects teachers and nurses. I don't have a clear idea of this but there's an argument to be made that these underfunded schools produce skilled nurses who then either end up in shitty jobs or later leave the country (according to older data from a couple of years ago, 50% of graduates from BA nursing programs just leave every year) or find work outside of health care. I don't know if any of these nursing high schools are involved in the strike. There are about 30 of them throughout the country with about 7500 students, mostly in... the Košice and Prešov region (2012 data), which are the ones who are the least involved in the teachers strike (at least relative to population).

MT wrote:
I will not comment on other things, as I would just repeat myself. I am surprised that you found offenses in my post, none were intended. Sorry for that anyway.

No offense taken! Probably I just misunderstood you. It came across a bit as if you thought I was too harsh with them or something.

Bambuľka kvantová
Feb 1 2016 00:06

Hey guys

Thanks so much for this discussion and updates! To me it being defensive or not is not such an issue. People who have invested themselves in struggles do experience them in different ways and there is always someone who is more defensive and others who are less defensive or more critical. But it doesn't matter as long as both sides are genuinely interested in the views of the others and the exchange keeps going, is bringing in various angles etc...
I grew up in a small industrial town in eastern Slovakia where I still have family links and friends. The antipathy towards many 'modern' things arising from the capital city is very common indeed, as you've mentioned (is there a country where this is not the case?smile) It follows that the bastions of the social-conservative ruling party SMER are regional and I agree that spreading the strike into the regions, especially eastern Slovakia, is the matter of life and death of this movement. The growth of the strike in the regions would smash the government's key propaganda weapon that the strike is a tiny minority protest blown up by the 'liberal caffes' in Bratislava. Combined with the impacts of the departure of hundreds of nurses in eastern Slovakia alone starting from today, this would make the government pretty nervous, just weeks before the next general elections. But even more importantly, this would create a real meeting space for both nurses and teachers to come together, in whatever way... (Teachers are marching in both major centres in the East today, so let's hope to see the nurses' banners in the heat of it!)
The question neither jura or MT have clear answers yet is why the actual participation in the East is so weak, compared to Bratislava or the west of Sloavkia. Knowing some teachers' families there myself, I would agree with all what has been mentioned and perhaps think about two more things. 1. The age composition of the teaching staff: given higher immigration from the East than from the 'West' (myself included:-), there is a likelihood that the share of teachers awaiting their pensions in much higher in the East than in the West. If this is true, then the varying implications for the capacity to strike in both ends of the country are obvious... 2. As there isn't any strike fund yet, the factor of missing wages for the days on strike! Even if the teaching wage levels were pretty much the same across the country, teachers whose spouses/partners have got well paid jobs will find it much easier to go through this period of lost income. And if a real social base of such mixed-income couples exists, then it's in the capital Bratislava and not in the regions... I am wondering of what you think about this. Surely, without having good direct links to relevant people there, it sounds rather speculative. But even though I find similar questions healthy for the future class-strugglist assessments of the present movement.
Now a question for either of you: is there any organizational continuity between this current strike and the teachers' strike in 2012? Has any links between the strikers survived and continued after the defeat in December 2012 please?

MT
Feb 1 2016 00:38

Hi libcom newcomer;)

I don't have enough information to really judge the factor of age composition. Did you see any statistics that you could share?

What exactly do you mean by "there is a likelihood that the share of teachers awaiting their pensions in much higher in the East than in the West"? That they don't feel the need to strike when it is all over for them soon?

As for the mixed-income couples, yes, this is very common in Bratislava (mostly woman-teacher, man-the "real earner" in the family). But again, this is just observations which can be misleading without some help of statistics. I wouldn't like to claim that this mixed-income couples factor is not present by some miracle in the eastern Slovakia. I mean if you look at the map of strike participation, the Ruthene region is something that hits the eye, so does it mean the Ruthenes don't live in mixed-couples? Just joking, but you know what I mean. Plus there is another thing - it is easier to have two jobs in Bratislava than in any other place in Slovakia (and many teachers do have second jobs).

As for the continuity with 2012 - yes, the continuity is there. For example almost half of the strike committtee members are those who were among the most active teachers in the rolling strikes of December 2012. Their ways parted after 2012 (some joined the professional teachers organization SKU, most just stopped being active in the teachers cause) but met again in autumn 2015 and what is going on now is the result;)

jura
Feb 1 2016 07:58

No demographic data on teachers by region are available, at least none that I could find. It sounds plausible to me that the average age would tend to be higher in the East, and that the average income for (all) couples would be lower there. However, if the average age of teachers is higher there, then their average wage will probably also be a bit higher, due to the way it depends on seniority.

Anyway, another thing that might be useful would be to take a more aggressive approach towards the schools that are not on strike. For example, they could try to organize small demonstrations (composed of teachers and perhaps some students) or marches around schools that are not involved, in the morning or during the day, calling on the teachers inside to join them. I mean if cleaning up the environment or cooking food for the homeless makes sense, then this should make sense as well.

Steven.
Feb 1 2016 10:44

Hi guys, just say thanks again for the additional updates here, and appreciate the level of discussion as well, very interesting stuff.

MT
Feb 1 2016 11:12

Without demographic data we can just guess. First of all, average age si most probably high also in other regions. By observation you could see this also in Bratislava. You have a few of young teachers and then a few of pre-pension ones. And then you have a lot of those over 40-50. Now take an abstract school in other regions - it will be most probably 2, 3 or more times smaller but the age composition might be pretty much the same. I don't mean to say it is like that, I just would like to point out to this as a possibility that should prevent us from making wrong conclusions without data. To back this up a little more, take the composition based on school subjects. Let me mention a concrete example from a concrete school that is related to IT subjects but could be partly seen also in English subjects. You have a school where IT is taught by young teacher, he/she is dissatisfied and leaves. Another young teacher is hired and it goes the same trajectory. And then an older teacher is hired (perhaps coming from other parts of Slovakia) and doesn't leave. So what you get is that the average age rises. The fluctuation factor makes the analysis even more complicated.

Then, the average income - that is the case in everywhere outside Bratislava region, isn't it? But there is also the factor of average costs, which are lower outside Bratislava.

As for the idea of small demos outside non-striking schools, this idea is there from the beginning of the strike emergency but has not been implemented fully so far (or to the extent that we all would probably wish). This is a negative thing but there are also reasons for it, mostly human capacities (I mean, it is not that the ISU wouldn't want it).

jura
Feb 1 2016 11:28
MT wrote:
First of all, average age si most probably high also in other regions.

Yeah, but what I meant was this: when you look at average teachers' wages, i.e. the data that the government showed, they seem to be higher in the East than in Bratislava (and also higher than the average wage in the East for all employees in that region). This could be due to several things, but one of them would be that the teachers in the East are older (in terms of years taught), on average, than the ones in Bratislava. (Look at this chart, for example.) We can have doubts about whether this average is representative of the actual wages of most teachers, but looking at the relative ratios between Bratislava and the East, and as long as those numbers really are averages, then that difference does reflect something, and it could be the different age composition.

(Anyway, I don't think the "pre-pension" factor is too important. But it could be that the – on average – younger teachers in the West are simply more active, have some specific views, including political ones, etc. as opposed to the – on average – older teachers, ages 45+, in the East, who hold more conservative views etc. Also, it probably doesn't help much that at least some teachers in the East earn more than the average for all employees in the region; in a region with 15–17% unemployment etc.)

MT wrote:
As for the idea of small demos outside non-striking schools, this idea is there from the beginning of the strike emergency but has not been implemented fully so far (or to the extent that we all would probably wish). This is a negative thing but there are also reasons for it, mostly human capacities (I mean, it is not that the ISU wouldn't want it).

Yeah, I think that's a real pity. It would be preferable to some of the other actions they did for the media.

jura
Feb 1 2016 11:31

I also think that we shouldn't forget that Slovak teachers are, on average, Slovak teachers, i.e., one of the bastions of social conservatism and repression in the country smile (hippie Bratislava teachers notwithstanding...). wink

MT
Feb 1 2016 12:41

I see what you mean by the averages, but I am not truly convince. Also, the numbers on the map that you mention have already been criticized for its strange methodology.

Anyway, it is not only statistic data that could help us understand why eastern region is so "strikeless". At this tage I am afraid only a serious field research based on interviews with teachers living there could bring us closer to the answer. Because for example take the region around Rimavska Sobota (27,42 % unemployment rate in December 2015). How is this region different to eastern Slovakia? And the strike affected several schools there (both in towns and villages). And other marginalized regions like Orava and Kysuce? Perhaps we could see some hints when closely looking at the results of last elections (parliamentary and regional) in all those regions.

Let's take into consideration one more thing again. It might not answer our questions (I really believe only the interviews would) but could be valuable. Concrete example - a few ISU teachers visited last week a school some 20 km's from Bratislava (as part of visiting schools that are not on strike but either have someone who contacted ISU to come or there are people who know some teachers and proactively contacted them if there is an interest to come and hear what ISU has got to say). The result was that the majority of the school joined the strike and even started their own local activities! Why only after the visit? Because the teachers in that school only met for the first time as a collective at the assembly. Until then, they were isolated, atomized individuals. Of course, I am not trying to say that people in eastern part of Slovakia don't meet and discuss things collectively, but add another example to this - intimidation. In Humenne (one of the key towns of north-eastern Slovakia) there were reports of intimidation coming from authorities (I think it came from the mayor, who is a high-ranking SMER member and an MP in the parliament) and no school joined the strike. Perhaps if this town joined, it could be a reference point for others to talk about. So, perhaps no-one wants to be the first now. I don't know if this idea really helps, but I guess it is good to mention it.

Bambuľka kvantová
Feb 1 2016 13:16

Hey again,

Your story about the effect of one visit is very powerful! And yes, I also heard the story about Humenne mayor from friends on fb during the strike in 2012. Ruling parties tend to have strong leverage in regions where workers are left with little options at hand...
I also you could easily combined two methods in order to gain a better insight. One could start with collecting data on household income per regions/districts and then run simple correlation analysis with the degree of strike activity (e.g. proportion of schools on strike out of total number of schools per region/district). Just as an initial indication, and then in the next step the interviews you're suggesting would make a nice meat for the analysis (if there is a correlation, then the interviews would probably be able to highlight the political/subjective factors why teachers do not luckily behave the same everywhere...)
Anyway, thanks for the reply on the continuity thing... Have teachers from the regions been involved in the planning of this latest strike? Has the low participation in the east come as a surprise to ISU cadres? Many thanks and good luck!!!
(Jura, no more jokes about the soft cops please! smile

MT
Feb 1 2016 13:33

As for the planning. Before ISU there was IBU (Initiative of Bratislava teachers). Thanks to the events that started in October (happenings, blood donations etc.) more locals were formed and when they were I think 3-4 they decided to create ISU as a sort of umbrella, keeping the locals their autonomy. However, most of the strike committee members are from Bratislava.

Ehm, cadres:) I think it was clear from the beginning that everyone to the east of Bratislava:) will see situation a little bit different than teachers in Bratislava. As teachers started to join but there was still no activity in Košice (second biggest town in Slovakia) or Prešov, it was clear that something has to be done there. That is why strike committee members tried to do what they could to get contacts in Košice and eventually went there (twice) and local initiatives were formed in Košice as well as in Prešov at last. And some schools even joined the strike in Košice despite heavy intimidation.

jura
Feb 1 2016 20:15

I went to the actions today in Bratislava (a demonstration and a public meeting). The meeting was, again, quite interesting:

  • a person from the ISU clearly affirmed the "anti-political" nature of the strike (i.e., all parties are to blame for the low wages and living standards of teachers; politicians, including the current opposition, are not to be trusted) and was applauded,
  • a suggestion to organize demos around uninvolved schools was met with approval; turns out people have already done this successfully in Levice (a small town in western Slovakia, pop. 35k); after the meeting, some teachers were exchanging contacts to replicate this in Bratislava,
  • there was a lot of energy and self-confidence (albeit in a small sample, perhaps 50 people), as well as some touching moments, even for this objective analyst of class composition: a teacher from a nursing high school who's the only one on strike at the school; an English teacher whose kids were given free toys by a salesperson after she learned their mother is on strike; female teachers (who were a majority in the audience) pointing out their wider role in society as women and the pressure they face in their families (due to the strike),
  • a well-known right-wing intellectual and scientist saying he would never send his kids to a school that wasn't on strike – i.e., if it's not on strike, then he's going to help them strike by reducing the load (here's how fierce anti-communists learn about the importance of the picket line!),
  • almost everyone who spoke described the transformatory aspects of the strike (how people have gained confidence, opened up, learned to organize and discuss stuff); this is interesting given how fast things are happening, with almost no prior level of organization,
  • apparently there will be another attempt to involve the universities more closely. But this is problematic for scheduling reasons (it's still two weeks until the summer term starts),
  • I also have to salute the manner in which these meetings are organized: a short introduction by the ISU people followed by an "open mic" where everyone is able to speak,
  • but I also have to add something less encouraging: some people still seem to believe that this is winnable "even if just 5000 people are on strike", through popular support and demonstrations (I seem to recall similar ideas from three years ago, from the rolling strike, when one of the teachers involved declared that "it could go on for years")
  • tomorrow there are two things in Bratislava: a demonstration (@ 2pm) outside the Parliament during proceedings of the committee on education etc. (where 3 or 4 ISU people are invited to discuss with MPs; I'm not sure if the Minister will be there), and a demonstration downtown (@ 5pm) organized by university students in support of the strike; the latter will include some musical performances and stuff. I'm hoping to be able to go to both.
MT
Feb 1 2016 21:14

Good post jura and it is very nice to read about how you felt at the events. There is a lot of these amazing transformatory effects. And as for today's "human chains" in I guess 14 towns in Slovakia (which might have seemed to us just as media stunts) judging from the reactions (in several towns) it is clear that they had a great psychological/emotional effect. Check out video from Košice in Korzar for what I believe would be more nice impressions;)

Bambuľka kvantová
Feb 2 2016 17:33

I watched the video from Kosice, great to see 300 people at the demo, but it is still a very small number compared to the total of teachers in Kosice and the district region. I am also a bit worried by the number of charitable events the striking teachers in Kosice decided to carry out this week, e.g. free soups for the homeless, some arts work with disabled kids and youth in different clubs, even clean up in a animal rescue shelter!... Am not convinced these media events are the best way how to raise their power base in schools, as compared to picketing the vast majority of working, opened schools (as Jura had already pointed out).

MT
Feb 2 2016 20:45

I just would like to remind that we cannot judge things based on what is in the media.

jura
Feb 2 2016 20:56

Brief report on today: The demonstration today was not organized by ISU, but independently – by some university students. The event was aimed at the wider public and wasn't too interesting in terms of speeches, information about the strike etc. There were some teachers, including ones from Detva (central Slovakia, pop. 30k, traditional industrial town; extremely active teachers in the strike), a lot of students, all kinds of people. But in the small class struggle contingent that met there we all agreed that the event was boring smile. I'm terrible at these estimates but there were over a thousand people for sure.

I didn't go to the meeting afterwards as it was just one teacher from the ISU and two "experts" from NGOs trying to milk this and talk about "systemic reforms" etc. The teacher who spoke there was later quoted in the newspaper as saying "A part of the teachers can no longer afford to be on strike. The public has taken over the baton now". Not a good thing!

In more encouraging news, the academic senate of the Faculty of Arts (Comenius University in Bratislava, the biggest University in Slovakia) issued a statment calling on the University (i.e., the rector) to come out in support of the strike as well as saying that unless the negotiations between the state and the ISU are successful, the senate will call on the academic community of the Faculty to go on strike for one day. I don't remember anything like this happening before, so even though it's just a threat (and only a one-day strike), this is a good sign.

The fantasy class struggle scenario right now is the University on strike, with spaces occupied and used for meetings with teachers, and university teachers going around elementary and high schools encouraging their colleagues to go on with the strike.

OK, I'm awake again. I will try to go to the meeting tomorrow (@ 4:30pm) which hopefully will again be an "open mic" kind of thing.

BTW, the teachers who were exchanging contacts yesterday to do a mobilization march around some schools in Bratislava are actually doing this tomorrow at 7:30am, at three different schools. So it definitely makes sense to come to these meetings and discuss these "radical" ideas with people. A lot of them seem to expect the ISU to do everything and it's important to encourage them in doing their own activities (especially the more meaningful ones now). So Bambuľka maybe Dedo Jozef could take you to one of these meetings smile

MT
Feb 2 2016 21:23

Updates:

* Around 200 teachers met in front of the parliament and made noise in support of the ISU delegates that went to the meeting of the Education Committee. As predicted, the minister basically refuted all the topics that were discussed.

* At 17.00 there was a happening organized by university students. I have to say it was pretty boring (I guess because of how it was handled - a speech by someone, 2 songs by some musician - a speech - a musician...). This rapidly changed at the end, when several members of the strike committee went on stage and gave very good speeches in terms of the general mood. It was morale boosting and fun, so finally the impression from those almost 2 hours was quite nice. I read in some media, that 2500 students came. I would say a lot less.

* At 19.00 a debate was organized with a member of ISU strike committee, head of the association of privately owned schools and someone from some NGO or think-thank (sorry for my ignorance). There were bits that I didnt't like much (like the ISU person saying that she personally is a right-winger, as if someone cared...) but the general impression was quite nice. The most critical topics like rationalization of the system (cuts in number of schools or teachers to make the system more effective) were refused by ISU representative saying that quite contrary the fewer the pupils in the class the better and also that the demographic development goes contrary to this idea. Also, all parties agreed that the pay rise is something necessary to make the miserable life of teachers bearable. The ISU representative said that the strike is not about the wages, but this once again points out to what I mentioned earlier that the majority of the debate was exactly about how crucial the wage hikes are:) The event was moderated by a well- known right-wing columnist who I was told wrote anti-doctors articles when they gave mass notices few years ago. Another example of how right-wingers turn pro-strike suddenly when they see that the strike plays well into their anti-SMER pre-election agenda (although I think there are more factors to this). At the end of the event the moderator said that the resources are limited and simply cannot be given to everyone to which the ISU representative said for example that there is a billion € to be spent on coal mines while these money could be used for example for the miners to re-qualify and there still will be a lot of money left for other things. (This reminded me what Greenpeace Slovakia suggested - a life-long wage for the fired miners and closure of the mines instead of further mining). Personally I expected much worse response, so I am not the best person to comment on this but on the other hand there was a clear answer to other similar topic - what the striking teachers propose to improve the system - saying that this is not up to the teachers to tell the government what to do.

* The number of striking teachers continues to decline, but is still above 8000.

* There is a new wave of invitations to schools that do not strike yet. At least in Bratislava region this number is reaching the ISU limits as for the capacities to really cover that.

* And yes, the visits and teacher meetings are done on daily basis from the beginning of the strike, perhaps with the exception of the first day (plus there were such meetings also before the strike).

jura
Feb 2 2016 23:03
MT wrote:
And yes, the visits and teacher meetings are done on daily basis from the beginning of the strike, perhaps with the exception of the first day (plus there were such meetings also before the strike).

In my opinion this particular case is a bit different. Apparently it's not organized by the ISU (but by teachers from various schools which are on strike) and it was made publicly known beforehand. I think they should make more of these. They should declare a "day of action" or something for next Monday and organize small marches from school to school from the early morning until afternoon. Not necessarily to discuss with the non-striking teachers (in a formal seeting, like a proper meeting in the sense you mentioned), but to show up as a collective force, with banners and chants, perhaps also some supporters (parents, high school students). This way, the ISU would not necessarily have to be involved (or they might, if they have the capacity). It might also be a good idea to leaflet schools in the morning – this way, they could reach both their non-striking colleagues and parents at once. I'd be up for doing this myself but I think it would be more credible if the teachers did it. Again, it's something people who are not ISU could do (the ISU would just have to write the leaflet). But clearly the key is now to get the people who are on strike but perhaps are not doing anything much in terms of active militancy to further the struggle to do that.

jura
Feb 2 2016 22:47

dabl poust

MT
Feb 3 2016 11:10

By the way, there is a demo in London in front of the Slovak Embassy:
25 Kensington Palace Gardens, W8 4QY (https://www.facebook.com/events/1713640515520624/)
It is organized by Slovaks living/studying in London if I understood it correctly. They say that banners, balloons, candles or whatever visible is welcome. It is meant especially for Slovaks showing support to what is going in Slovakia but I don't think they would kick out anyone else. A report from London by a libcomer, would be nice, so that we don't rely only on media reports;)

jura
Feb 3 2016 12:24

The Ministry announced today that only 47 schools are still fully closed, with no schools closed in the Nitra and Prešov regions (not good). According to the ISU website, almost 7800 teachers are still on strike from 614 schools. There has been a ~13% drop in participation (in terms of people) from Feb 1 to today.

There was a small silent demonstration in front of the Government Office in Bratislava in the morning. Other demos and meetings are taking place throughout the day in various cities and towns. I will report back from the public meeting which is later today.

BTW, the general response from the intellectual (non-partisan) left to this strike has been disastrous. I had no illusions about Slovak leftists but it's worse than I expected. Almost everyone rejects the strike due to "bad timing" which does not follow the "established rules" of the "standard legislative process". Many parrot the line about the strike being a political stunt of the opposition. Some even come close to the theories about this being instigated by foreign powers, in the style of the Ukrainian "Orange Revolution". It's an understatement to say that these leftist views are a mirror image of the right-wing reactions to the doctors' struggle in 2011. Of course, none of these left-wing sociologists, journalists and experts on gender mainstreaming or social exclusion came to any of the public meetings in Bratislava, where they could have talked to the allegedly "manipulated" teachers. I mean... can you believe it? A self-described feminist disapproving of the largest social mobilization of (mostly) working women in modern Slovak history (which is not in the name of anti-women policies as in the case of the "Alliance for the Family", an anti-LGBT and anti-abortion outfit).

MT
Feb 3 2016 13:10

I guess around noon there was a joint press conference of ISU committee representatives and representatives of the professional and union organizations that organized the mass notices of nurses and midwives. They demand that an emergency meeting of parliament is called, so that acts to improve the wages of nurses and midwises (as a starting point) and wages of the teachers (and other demands) are implemented before the elections. ISU called for such a meeting already some days ago and now they did it once again with the representatives of nurses and widwives.

Edit: ISU member said at the press conference that there is still 200 schools that are closed or severely crippled by the strike.

jura
Feb 3 2016 13:24

The use of "flying pickets" (well, sort of) is bearing some fruit: yesterday, in Banská Bystrica (central Slovakia, pop. 80k), 15 striking teachers turned up outside the building of a high school to sing "Gaudeamus Igitur", a traditional academic song used at graduation ceremonies, to taunt their colleagues who are not on strike. The school had been in limited operation, so at that time (10:30), the final class was about to end. About a hundred students then came out to meet the singing teachers.

Entdinglichung
Feb 3 2016 15:01
jura wrote:
The use of "flying pickets" (well, sort of) is bearing some fruit: yesterday, in Banská Bystrica (central Slovakia, pop. 80k), 15 striking teachers turned up outside the building of a high school to sing "Gaudeamus Igitur", a traditional academic song used at graduation ceremonies, to taunt their colleagues who are not on strike. The school had been in limited operation, so at that time (10:30), the final class was about to end. About a hundred students then came out to meet the singing teachers.

funny, in Germany, Gaudeamus Igitur is mostly sung by student fraternities (which are mostly rightwing and always elitist), can't imagine the song becoming part of emancipatory protest culture there

MT
Feb 3 2016 15:08

It seems that the opposition parties agreed to call an emergency parliamentary meeting. (Which was later described by the prime minister as "another feud without any possibility to agree on financial decisions")

The prime minister just said in the special press conference (called "the final statement of the government regarding the strike") that he thanks the majority of the teachers who did not strike and declared for the millionth time that they will raise wages by 25% in next 4 years if they be those who form the government. Plus he tried to frame the future debate on possible further pre-election actions that it is simply an opposition affair. He just repeated the same line that has been told by the government so far. The only change is that it was wrapped as "the final statement":)

MT
Feb 3 2016 15:16
Entdinglichung wrote:
jura wrote:
The use of "flying pickets" (well, sort of) is bearing some fruit: yesterday, in Banská Bystrica (central Slovakia, pop. 80k), 15 striking teachers turned up outside the building of a high school to sing "Gaudeamus Igitur", a traditional academic song used at graduation ceremonies, to taunt their colleagues who are not on strike. The school had been in limited operation, so at that time (10:30), the final class was about to end. About a hundred students then came out to meet the singing teachers.

funny, in Germany, Gaudeamus Igitur is mostly sung by student fraternities (which are mostly rightwing and always elitist), can't imagine the song becoming part of emancipatory protest culture there

I think it is just a matter of a tradition and the lyrics are simply interpreted as a homage to the academy/teachers. But who knows, I never understood why people sing this thing:)

jura
Feb 3 2016 18:32

Tonight there are plenty of meetings organized by the individual elementary and high schools – mostly oriented towards parents and explaining the situation to them. I went to an open meeting in a bookstore/cafe. The turnout was quite small (not more than 30 people), mostly elementary school teachers, only a few (2 or 3) parents. There was a representative of the ISU, but the meeting itself was organized independently.

There was a brief introduction by the ISU person, followed by an open mic. Most of the teachers used this to talk about individual experience, not so much with the strike as with the general situation (underfunded schools, teachers' living standards, difficult children). One of the teachers read a short excerpt from an NY Times article about the strike. At the end, everyone sang "Gaudeamus igitur".

Random notes:

  • if your children go to a kindergarten, they have to bring a "hygiene package" at the beginning of each term, which includes a roll of toilet paper, soap and napkins. Parents also have to provide a pack of office paper (500pcs each); this is something unimaginable for my generation who had everything provided for them at virtually no cost;
  • everyone was deeply disgusted with the Prime Minister's speech today in which he basically shut off any further discussion (see MT's post above),
  • a private Waldorf school participates in the strike, the teachers came to the meeting to express solidarity,
  • there was an interesting discussion of the unpaid "affective labor" (the term wasn't used, of course) teachers expend,
  • many teachers mentioned how much extra unpaid time they put in, including time of their relatives (i.e., their husbands often help out at school in various ways, like repairs and stuff),
  • there were teachers from a "special school" (for children with disabilities) who spoke about the specific needs of their schools and the lack of personnel (I was very impressed with how they spoke, it was clearly spontaneous but sounded almost like a rehearsed speech),
  • one aspect I hadn't noticed before was how everyone (ISU, but also the other teachers) emphasizes the right to education for everyone; they explain their demand for more funds for schools primarily in terms of parents not having to pay for so much extra stuff – i.e., the goal is to provide education which is really for free, not just formally as it is now; in retrospect I think this should have been emphasized more as it is directly related to material needs;
  • there's a divide between the ISU (the strike committee) and the teachers; a teacher asked about what the next steps could be (given the PM's dismissive attitude) and was told to wait until the ISU discuss this (I understand the divide is probably inevitable in the current situation, but it's a problem); there was no further discussion of what could be done (although I know for a fact that some rank-and-file teachers are discussing road blockades or occupying the Ministry),
  • there are hopes of connecting with the universities somehow (let's see what comes out of the Faculty of Arts meeting on Monday),
  • I noticed a lot of these teachers were at the previous meetings, clearly there's a core of most active collectives,
  • generally the mood was sort of pensive and about sharing, not very militant. Probably the meetings at particular schools were different in this respect,
  • we have to get out of these expensive cafes, I spent € 2 for an espresso!
jura
Feb 3 2016 18:38

MT, you have to get a report from one of the meetings in Košice or elsewhere in the East and post a translation.

MT
Feb 3 2016 18:47

what what?smile