Teachers suspend strike until September

“We teachers, we parents and we students say clearly: we will not give in and we will not give up fighting for good Polish education,” Broniarz emphasised. Rafał Guz/PAP

The Polish Teachers' Union (ZNP) on Thursday suspended an ongoing national teacher strike as of April 27 to enable this year's Matura (secondary school graduation) exams.

ZNP head Sławomir Broniarz, who announced the suspension, said ZNP was giving Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki time until September to offer specific solutions to end the deadlock.

According to Broniarz the strike could have been continued during the Matura exams, due to start on May 6, and the government would not be able to manage the situation and find teachers to conduct them. However, he pointed out, teachers, heads of schools and parents would have to take responsibility for students. "In agreement with the students, in agreement with the parents, we have decided to suspend the strike to provide students with the conditions for graduation, but I repeat: we are suspending this protest but we are not ending it," he stressed.

Broniarz added that the union expects from PM Morawiecki "a tough, manly attitude which will meet the expectations of more than half a million teachers and hundreds of thousands of parents and students."

"We teachers, we parents and we students say clearly: we will not give in and we will not give up fighting for good Polish education," Broniarz emphasised. He also assured that his union would not join an agreement sealed earlier between the government and the teachers' branch of the Solidarity Union, and pointed out that the teacher protest was "entering a new phase."

"As of today we are entering a new phase which will show a new aspect of our protest. Right now we are midway, but I can say with certainty that we will not sign the agreement that the government has concluded with Solidary either today, or tomorrow, or in the following days. Today we are suspending the strike, but the protest continues and will continue until (our goals - PAP) are achieved," the ZNP head declared.

Broniarz said he planned to build "a broad coalition for a good education package," and announced that his union will hold a "real education round table" in June.

Responding to ZNP's decision to suspend the strike, PM Mateusz Morawiecki said on Thursday that he received the decision "with contentment."

A nationwide teachers' strike broke out after the government failed to concede to teacher demands of an immediate PLN 1,000 (EUR 233) gross raise and changes in their working conditions. The protesters have since modified their demands to a 30 percent wage raise in two tranches, both payable this year. The government says the budget cannot afford such a big raise at the moment, and suggests incremental increases be spread out over a longer period of time.