Yesterday Lithuanian school teachers began an open-ended strike with the main issue being a wage increase.
Trade unions have asked the Lithuanian government to find an additional 17 million Euros in this year’s budget, in order to fund the wage increase.
However, Algirdas Butkevicius, Lithuania’s prime minister, said the government was only able to find an additional 5 million euros at most.
“I was a little bit surprised today by educational trade unions putting forward additional demands,” Butkevicius was quoted as saying by ELTA news agency.
According to the data from Lithuania’s ministry of education, average full-time teacher’s pre-tax monthly salary amounts to 823.4 euros in the Baltic country. However, more than one third of Lithuanian teachers don’t work full-time, mostly due to decreasing number of children in classrooms as the country faced serious demographic challenges.
According to the ministry, 233 schools and pre-school institutions participated in a protest strike on Monday. The number represents more than one tenth of all schools in Lithuania. However, more schools consider joining the walkout in the upcoming days, while some of those already participating decided to continue the strike.
Is Russia to Blame?
The Lithuanian government has responded the way capitalist governments often do, to workers’ demands for a living wage and human dignity:
Blame outside agitators. In this case, Russia.
According to this piece in the REGNUM portal, Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius sees a sinister “Russian trace” in the events. He says he received information from “certain services” (i.e., secret services??) that Russia is “stirring up” the trouble and agitating the teachers.
One assumes that some proof of this allegation will be forthcoming. Or maybe the allegation, by itself, is enough to scare the striking teachers back to their desks, to labour on at austerity-level salaries?