Polish teachers strike confronts social disaster wrought by capitalist restoration
Clara Weiss and Jerry White
10 April 2019
The strike by hundreds of thousands of Polish teachers shut down 75 percent of the country’s schools and kindergartens on Tuesday, according to teacher unions. Educators on Monday began an indefinite national strike—the first since 1993—to demand improved wages and classroom conditions and to oppose efforts by the extreme right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) to rewrite the school curriculum to promote the government’s nationalist and xenophobic agenda.
A 90-minute negotiating session on Tuesday between the heads of two unions and Deputy Prime Minister Beata Szydło broke down, with the government saying it had no money to increase its pay offer of 15 percent over several years, which would be tied to an increase in the number of weekly lessons a teacher must give from 18 to 25.
Szydło called on teachers to return to their classrooms to give final exams to millions of elementary and middle school students that are scheduled for today, while school directors attempt to recruit retired teachers, religious school teachers and non-striking teachers to conduct the tests.
However, the teachers, who are demanding a 30 percent pay raise, remain defiant and are continuing the strike. The walkout has won the strongest support in the cities, but even in rural areas with a lower participation rate, the strike shut down more than half the schools and kindergartens. In total, at least 15,000 schools and kindergartens have been closed due to the strike, and many have hand-made signs hanging on school gates declaring, “Strajk.”
“I absolutely support their strike,” Tomasz Pietka,…