For a third day in a row, many of North Macedonia’s schools and kindergartens are closed due to a nationwide strike by teachers seeking a pay rise in line with the increase given to minumim-wage public sectory workers.

North Macedonia Teachers Strike, Demanding Pay Rise

Many teachers in schools and kindergartens in North Macedonia are on strike. Photo: EPA-EFE/GEORGI LICOVSKI

North Macedonia’s Union of Workers in Education, Science and Culture, SONK, is expected to continue talks on Wednesday with the Education Ministry over its demands for an immediate pay rise and a series of further salary increases linked to the cost of living over the coming years.

“Let this day, Wednesday, be a lucky day for all of us. We hope that today we will be invited for negotiations and that we will get a reasonable offer. Until then, good luck,” the head of SONK, Jakim Nedelkov wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.

The nationwide strike by education workers started on Monday and has resulted in the closing of many elementary and high schools, as well as kindergartens, across the country.

The strike began after the government failed to meet workers’ demand for immediate rise of 18.4 per cent and a new methodology for pay rises in the future.

Their demand came after the government agreed on a rise in the minimum wage in the public sector of 18 per cent, which came into effect from this month, but failed to increase non-minimum wage salaries in public sector correspondingly.

On Tuesday, SONK got support from the Independent Academic Workers Union, NAkS, which represents university faculty professors, among others.

NAkS said that pay rises across the education sector are “absolutely necessary” and also threatened to take more “radical” steps if its demands fall on deaf ears. So far however, university faculties remain open.

The government and the Education Ministry hinted on Tuesday they are ready for more talks with increase, but insisted on immediate end to the strike so that pupils don’t miss classes.

“We are open to dialogue and agreeing on a system for pay rises that won’t be conditioned and caused by strikes and dissatisfaction. In this regard, I encourage the union to continue the dialogue and take responsibility for a permanent solution that would allow pay rises,” Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

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