Nearly half of Polish schools took part in a two-hour strike on 29 May called by EI affiliate ZNP to support demands for a 20% pay rise for education personnel, increase of expenditure on education and the upholding of the right to early retirement until at least 2011 and the right to 'bridge’ retirement.
‘Between 50 and 60 percent of Poland’s schools went on strike for two hours,’ Slawomir Broniarz, head of ZNP said
‘If we don’t get what we want, we will start an open-ended strike like the doctors,’ he warned.
On the afternoon of 29 May, ZNP leaders met with Vice Prime Minister Przemysÿaw Gosiewski. Most of the discussion focused on the pension issue. Both parties exchanged ideas and the Vice Prime Minister agreed to make a financial estimate of the ZNP demands to maintain early retirement provisions. Another meeting is scheduled on 6 June.
The day after the strike, ZNP representatives also met with the Minister of Education Roman Giertych, in the presence of the Vice Prime Minister. The Minister of Education expressed support for the financial demands put forward by ZNP and committed to defend a pay rise for teachers during the June discussion on next year’s budget.
In an apparent attempt to stem the strike, the education ministry had earlier written to the 850 schools which bear the name of the late Polish-born Pope John Paul II, urging staff not to join the protest.
Deputy minister Miroslaw Orzechowski, who like Giertych is a member of the far-right, Catholic League of Polish Families, said teachers should remember that during a visit to Poland in 1999 the pontiff had told to ‘live out the vocation’ which they had ‘received from God.’
‘The words of this most eminent of Poles should be a guide for you,’ Orzechowski wrote.