Teachers in Serbia are striking and protesting against a cut to their pay, which is already one of the lowest in Europe. At present their average pay is about $416 a month. The 10% pay cut is being inflicted on all public sector workers.

There was a big protest in the capital, Belgrade yesterday, where teachers marched from parliament to the Ministry of Education and blocked traffic. When the minister of education Srbjan Verbic appeared, some angry teachers jostled and sprayed him with water so that he had to be pushed back into his official car by security forces.

The fury of the teachers is understandable. Indeed it is even understandable to the prime minister who told the media: ' I feel for them, they are right, but what do they expect us to do? To end the arrangement with IMF?' Serbia is under instruction from the IMF as it attempts to get new loans to enable it to join the European Union. The way education, teachers and the public sector are being punished in that country is typical of the situation in most of the EU and indeed across the world. 

Interestingly, the US treasury secretary, Jack Lew, is quoted today in the press as begging the Congress to guard its influence in the IMF because 'Our investments in these institutions promote our strategic interests and international stabilityEvery dollar of our participation leverages four more from other member countries.' Or to put it more crudely as one US columnist did: 'Through the IMF, the US gets to decide how to spend other people’s money. The IMF amplifies Washington’s influence. A deal to expand the IMF further is about as close to a free lunch for America as it gets.' Of course it isn't ordinary US citizens who are benefiting but the elites who run the country and to a large extent the world.

Meanwhile teachers and other public sector workers in countries like Serbia are struggling to make ends meet. No wonder they are angry.