Monday marked the beginning of an open-ended strike by kindergarten and primary school teachers in North Macedonia, where the cost of living is at an all-time high and wages are stagnant.
The teachers’ union is urging the government to boost teachers’ monthly salaries from 400 euros to nearly 700 euros ($436 to $760) by 2024, an increase of about 20 percent.
No additional raises for teachers are planned by the center-left administration this year. As a result of a dramatic rise in energy and food prices, the government has already raised the minimum monthly wage from 247 euros to 292 euros.
A 14-year high of 8.8 percent annual inflation was recorded in the Balkan nation of around 1.8 million people in March, the ninth month in a row that annual inflation has risen.
Teachers’ unions have been urged by Education Minister Jeton Shaqiri to enter immediate negotiations to find a solution.
“Put first the interests of children and make sure that the educational process is not disrupted,” Prime Minister Dimitar Kovachevski urged on strikers.