Teachers in the eastern EU country, Lithuania, have started an indefinite strike today. This is the culmination of 2 years of negotiations and a warning strike in November which have led nowhere.
20% of teachers in Lithuania are past retirement age because they cannot afford to leave. Teachers' pay is low and the unions say an extra £111 million school funding is needed in order to improve education. In response to their campaign the government has only promised 10% of that figure. The unions are demanding smaller class sizes and more work to improve the access and equal opportunities for children. Small rural schools in particular are of poor quality and children from low income backgrounds are missing out. Pre-school education is also seriously underfunded.
Unemployment is high in Lithuania and the economy was particularly hard hit by the last financial crisis in 2008. The IMF is making its usual prescriptions - increased private sector involvement and cuts in public spending. As is so often the case, teachers are in the forefront in the fight against austerity.
The teachers unions are asking their colleagues in the rest of Europe to support their strike.