Lithuania: Warning strike calls for government to implement negotiated funding boost for education


LŠMPS is calling a two-hour warning strike tomorrow, in response to the government’s decision to overturn a collective agreement on increased education funding and teacher salaries. Lithuania’s Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport pledged to allocate an additional €117 million next year but the proposed 2020 budget earmarks only €55.5 million in extra funding: a shortfall of €61.5 million. ETUCE supports education personnel in Lithuania demanding respect for social dialogue and collective agreements.

Teachers and higher education personnel in Lithuania earn below the OECD average, creating difficulties in attracting sufficient workers to the education professions. ETUCE member organisation LŠMPS therefore negotiated a reasonable package of salary increases and improved funding for the sector, and was pleased when the agreement was signed with the Ministry of Education.

Now the government is turning its back on the agreement, undermining a core principle of social dialogue and right to fair collective representation. Lithuania’s Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis says the commitments were not included in the budget bill because the Education Ministry had not been authorised by the government to sign the agreement. However, the state legal department explains that this additional authorisation was never needed. LŠMPS and its members therefore have no option but to begin a campaign of industrial action to force the government to keep its word. This starts with a two-hour warning strike on Thursday 28 November, which may be followed by more disruptive strike action in the coming months if the government continues to break its promises.

ETUCE is in solidarity with LŠMPS and will continue to monitor the situation. They also have the support of their national confederation and the Lithuanian trade union representing school leaders, who are ready to strike alongside their staff.