OZPŠaV : “We only ask to continue lobbying for the end of the invasion and to use any means available to show solidarity with Ukraine”


Following the military invasion by the Russian Federation on the Ukraine, that started on the 24 February 2022, millions of people have been displaced fleeing the war zone to the neighboring countries, majoriy of them women and children. Most of the persons leaving Ukraine and seeking refuge elsewhere, are crossing into EU and other neighboring countries such as Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary. Many education unions in these countries have already expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people and stepped in to support refugees, especially children and youth.

Today, we spoke to Pavel Ondek, president of OZPŠaV, ETUCE member organisation in Slovakia, about union’s actions on supporting Ukrainian teachers and refugees coming to their country.

Due to the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine, Slovakia is experiencing an unprecedented influx of refugees, most of whom are women and children. Could you tell us what is the current situation in your country and what impact does it have on the education system?

Pavel Ondek: Our country is providing support to refugees directly on the boarders where hot spots are established and hundreds of volunteers are helping. Those who decide to stay in Slovakia are provided information about their rights and possibilities of accommodation, work and school attendance for children and students. At the moment we register around 3700 Ukrainian students accepted at all levels of education system. This of course requires increased financial and personal resources since the pupils need special assistance and language courses.

What actions is your union taking to address these issues? What would you demand from your government?

Pavel Ondek: Our trade union is in constant contact with representative of TUESWU (one of ETUCE member organisations in Ukraine). We have approved the financial support to be sent to their bank account to help people in need. We have also offered our recreational facilities in which 11 children and 4 women have so far been accommodated. Our regional representatives are helping to arrange school attendance for children and clothes and other demands for mothers.

Our trade union addresses our demands to the state authorities asking in particular to create special budget to be distributed among schools and school facilities which accepted Ukrainian students. We also demand provision of pedagogical and psychological support to teachers dealing with Ukrainian students. Some of our demands were met by the bill so called ‘Lex Ukraine’ which was passed by the Parliament yesterday. It includes introducing simplified conditions for refugees to open the bank account, ask for social security benefits and for Ukrainian teachers to start working in Slovakia. The law also provides for financial assistance for households which provide accommodation to refugees.

How could ETUCE and education trade unions in other countries support your union in dealing with these challenges?

Pavel Ondek: We only ask ETUCE and our partner trade unions in Europe to continue lobbying for the end of the invasion and to use any means available to show solidarity with Ukraine and to support our friends in TUESWU in these extraordinary hard times.