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POLAND: Teachers' protest

Many school teachers are currently conducting a country-wide protest. Similarly to officers of Poland’s Police in November, teachers are now collectively going on sick leave. According to the Ministry of Education, 1500 teachers were absent from 38 schools on Tuesday. So far, several kindergartens were closed, with many classes in middle schools and high schools cancelled. The situation is intensifying as more teachers join the protest, according to Teachers’ Union representatives. Teachers and their Union demand a minimum PLN 1000 wage increase for all vacancies and argue for a change in the recently amended, but criticised system of performance assessment.

The Ministry of Education responded to the protests by assurances that the 2019 budget will include approximately PLN 4 billion for raises in the educational sector. Additionally, teachers were awarded a 5,35% raise in 2018 and are expected to receive an additional 5% in January. Still, teachers’ demands would roughly cost the budget PLN 6 billion.

Talks between PM Morawiecki, Education Minister Anna Zalewska and the Teachers’ Union are expected to take place on 8 January – if these turnout unfruitful, the teachers have announced plans to repeat the protest. This protest is yet another problem for Minister Zalewska who previously was criticised for her education reform. The manner in which she will resolve this issue, will have influence on her future in the government as well as her perspectives in regard to speculation of her candidacy to the European Parliament in May 2019. In the parliamentary elections perspective, Zalewska is likely to be one of the ministers receiving most criticism from the opposition.