Kosovo: Teachers’ strike for decent pay met with intimidation campaign
Teachers in Kosovo have joined administration workers in a general strike for decent pay. Since the beginning of the strike on August 25, the Union of Education, Science and Culture of Kosova, Education International member organisation, has been the target of repeated attacks from a government that refuses to negotiate with teachers’ elected representatives. Educators in Kosovo, from early childhood to higher education, stand firm in their demands.
“Government efforts to undermine unions goes against the core principles of democracy. Teachers in Kosovo are well within their rights to take strike action and demand a decent wage. We denounce all efforts to intimidate and exert pressure on teachers and their union and call on the Kosovo government to engage in meaningful and constructive social dialogue with the Union of Education, Science and Culture of Kosova”, stated David Edwards, Education International General Secretary.
Intimidation campaign against teachers on strike
The vast majority of education institutions in Kosovo have joined the strike. The government has embarked on a campaign to intimidate teachers and unionists, inciting parents against educators and delaying the salaries of employees on strike.
Rrahman Jasharaj, the President of the Union of Education, Science and Culture of Kosova, has also been targeted by a defamation campaign. On September 2nd, Elvis Hoxha, Adviser to Prime Minister Kurti, posted allegations that Mr Jasharaj had been a member of a party in the 1990s. The accusation led to the union leader becoming the target of insults and attacks on social media. After a strong reaction from civil society, Mr Hoxha withdrew the accusations and issued a public apology. The attacks, however, did not stop. On September 5, while on a visit to a school in Pristina, President Jasharaj was physically attacked by the grandfather of one of the students at the school.
After the failed attempt to discredit the union leader, the government tried to raise doubts about the union’s financial situation. In two press conferences, the Minister of Finance accused the union of financial wrongdoing, despite audit reports to the contrary.
The Union of Education, Science and Culture of Kosova has taken legal action against these attacks. Educators in Kosovo continue to stand firm and demand their rights, with the full support of Education International.