Last week’s 2-hour warning strike by teachers and other education personnel in Lithuania has brought a swift resolution to their dispute. The government has now promised to implement the €117m budget increase for education which they agreed to in 2017. ETUCE welcomes this victory for social dialogue and education trade unions’ agenda-setting power.

On 2 November an amended collective agreement (2017) for the education and science sector was signed in Lithuania. The Lithuanian government will now deliver the €117 million euro funding boost for education that was already negotiated and concluded by the Ministry of Education and trade unions and on June 13. This means that teachers, lecturers and researchers will receive a 10% salary increase from next autumn. Early years and pre-school teachers will especially benefit: their salaries have risen by 10 percent this year and will rise by about 7 percent from January, and in total their salaries will increase by more than 30% by 2020 and from 1 September 2020 onwards their salaries will finally be equal to those of all other teachers.

Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, and Minister of Education, Science and Sport Algirdas Monkevičius joined the ceremony with leaders of four trade unions in the education sector.

As the threat of more disruptive strike action is now lifted, the Prime Minister welcomed that the issue was resolved “through dialogue rather than strikes, which are troublesome to the whole community...this year’s budget is really very tight, but education has always been and will continue to be a priority.” The Prime Minister also welcome the face that unions’ funding demands were part of a coherent long-term vision for education in the country and promised to explore this further.

Egidijus Milešinas, President of the Lithuanian Education and Science Trade Union, one of the ETUCE member organisations in the country, welcomed the opportunity to create lasting change together: “This agreement demonstrates that we can successfully negotiate and move forward if we demand more than just money and think about the long-term goals of the state. After the new year, we will continue the dialogue on what major changes to the system are needed."

ETUCE Director Susan Flocken offered her congratulations to colleagues in Lithuania. “Above all, this dispute was about respect for social dialogue. Let’s remember that the unions and the government had already negotiated this much-needed €117 million funding boost for education. If governments do not implement what they have agreed, then the principles of collective bargaining and social dialogue are fundamentally undermined. Well done to education trade unions in Lithuania who have held the government to account and won! This funding boost will make the teaching profession fairer and more attractive, which is vital to guarantee quality education to all.”