The new school year in Serbia will start with teachers’ protest and a series of one-day strikes

Photo: Unija SPRS Beograd / Facebook

At yesterday’s press conference representatives of education trade unions (the SPRS Union, the GSPRS Nezavisnost, SRPS, SOS) announced a protest motivated by the introduction of a new salary structure in the public sector. The protest named “Justice before money” will be held on the August 31, at noon, in front of the Serbian Ministry of education.

The new salary structure in the public sector proposes thirteen pay groups. Every group contains workplaces where the employees perform same or similar tasks. The payees in every group will share the same base pay, while the differences between earnings within one group will be defined by pay classes.

The proposed systematization reserves the first four groups for jobs requiring elementary and lower secondary education, the groups five and six are reserved for higher secondary education, seven to eleven for workplaces requiring high (tertiary) education, while the groups twelve and thirteen are reserved for managers.

The trade unions claim that the teachers, who would fall into the eight group of payees, and the librarians, who would fall into the seventh group, would be cut short.

According to the trade unions, the proposed pay scale will not only cut the financial additions, such as the ones for class teachers, for which the additions have been cut down from 4% to 0.5%, but also make professional advancing of any sort impossible, while augmenting the scope of work.

They claim one of the biggest problems to be the fact that some 1600 school principals’ positions have been accounted into group eleven. According to trade unions’ claims, these positions will be occupied by people close to the party in power because of the salary which will bearound 800 Euros, much higher than what teacher’s earn.

The labour unions from the region announced their support for the teachers. Leftist political organizations are also expected to join the protest on August 31.

An obstacle for the teachers’ professional advancement

In a statement for Mašina, Tomislav Živanović, the president of union GSPRS Nezavisnost, warned that the salary structure is not the only problem. There is also a fear of political pressure.

Currently, the teachers’ work is being judged by the parents, care-givers, colleagues, the school’s expert services, political and economic organizations belonging to the local community. Our proposition is to establish some clearly measurable criteria instead of leaving the possibility for teachers advancementto the good will of certain individuals. If it stays this way, we fear that the teachers will be judged according to political compliance and notto the quality of their work.

M.J.

Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić

This article was originally published in Serbian on August 28, 2018.

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