By noon, 48.5 pct of schools on strike - Education Ministry

"The largest strike in education since 1993 starts today at 8:00 a.m. The question is, what is the government's position? We are ready for talks. We are ready to try to convince the government that this strike does not only have an economic pretext, but it is also a strike to defend the quality of education, which, unfortunately, the past few years have destroyed," the head of the Polish Teachers' Union (ZNP), Sławomir Broniarz told TVN24 broadcaster on Monday. Adam Warżawa/PAP

By Monday noon, 48.5 percent of schools and kindergartens in Poland were taking part in the strike proclaimed by the Polish Teachers' Union (ZNP) and the Trade Unions' Forum (FZZ), the deputy Education Minister, Maciej Kopeć, announced.

Kopeć said that the situation "is being monitored." He also added that the ministry "will be receiving more data" throughout the day.

The ZNP and FZZ announced the strike after the government and union sides, except for Solidarity, failed to reach a deal during another round of talks at the 'Dialogue' Centre for Social Partnership in Warsaw on Sunday evening.

Despite the fact that Solidarity had signed an agreement with the government on Sunday night, some of its members joined the strike started by two other teachers' unions.

The ZNP and the FZZ started mass dispute procedures over wage-hike demands in January. In addition to a monthly pay rise of PLN 1,000 (EUR 232.5), unions also want more career openings for teachers and changes in performance assessment criteria. The talks between teacher unions and the government started on March 25.

The strike, which started on Monday, is likely to clash with external exams, including the April 10-12 lower secondary school (gimnazjum) final exams and the April 15-17 primary school final exams. Matura exams required to start university-level education are to begin on May 6.