ZAGREB (Reuters) - The Croatian government has offered a 2% wage hike for teachers this year which is affordable at the moment, Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said on Friday, ahead of a strike the teachers' unions have scheduled for next week.
Croatian teachers plan to go on strike on Oct. 10, saying the government has ignored their demands for a 6% wage increase, the two biggest unions of teachers in primary and secondary education said earlier this week.
"We offered (union leaders) a 2% hike which we can afford now. I cannot make any further promises before we have a budget plan for 2020 in place. My government sticks to the policy of spending no more than what the revenues allow," Plenkovic told reporters.
Officials from two teachers' unions were not immediately available for comment on the offer.
The liberal HNS party will insist on a 2% wage hike now and additional 4% in the budget for next year, Ivan Vrdoljak, leader of the liberal HNS party, a junior partner in the conservative-led ruling coalition, told reporters after a coalition meeting. The Education Minister Blazenka Divjak comes from the HNS party.
Teachers complain they have been underpaid for the tasks they now have to perform. The new school year marked the start of a major reform aimed at modernising education and bringing it more in line with what the labour market needs.
Last month, the government agreed to raise salaries for doctors and nurses by an average of 7% after a threat by the major healthcare unions to strike at hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
Croatia had a budget surplus in the last two years and the government wants to maintain that trend in its drive to preserve a recently regained investment credit rating and to satisfy criteria for euro adoption over the next four years.
(Reporting by Igor Ilic; Editing by Bernadette Baum)