Universities on strike for higher pay
Staff at all three public universities in Slovenia staged a strike on 30 May, demanding a fair pay system in higher education and respectful attitude from the government, and warning about what they see as harmful changes to the Higher Education Act.
All academic activities at the universities in Ljubljana, Maribor and Koper were cancelled, including exams and final thesis defences, and libraries and other services were closed in what is a continuation of the strike for higher pay and better working conditions that the Higher Education Union began in March of 2022.
Other demands include regular wage adjustment to inflation and alignment of professor salaries with those of medical specialists.
Taking place against the backdrop of talks on the reform of the public sector pay system, the latest strike is supported by the rectors of the Ljubljana and Maribor universities, deans, students and student organisations.
Strike negotiations have failed to bring solutions because the government refuses to ensure a fair pay system and has even backtracked on agreed solutions, said the union's president Gorazd Kovačič as he criticised the government for its lack of concrete response.
Kovačič deems the goverment's recent proposal to eliminate pay disparities "rude and offensive", saying that instead of decreasing the pay gap between university professors and other employees in higher education, it would actually increase it. On top of that, the proposal disregards the lowest paid public sector employees, such as cleaners, cooks and janitors.
Touching on the planned changes to the Higher Education Act, Marko Marinčič, the union's secretary general, warned that they could turn universities into corporations in a completely unacceptable move for the academic community.
Protesters in Ljubljana marched to the government building and demanded respect for universities, while in Maribor protesters heard that the situation had further worsened since the Government Act led to the creation of a separate Higher Education Ministry.
"We feel like the minister is not actually there," said Marija Javornik Krečič, secretary general of the university's union.
Minister Igor Papič regretted the strike, telling the STA that intensive talks with the Higher Education Union were under way and he counted on the union to show a constructive approach.
The union has announced that the strike will continue on 13 and 14 June and that it might step up the activities. If necessary, they will continue to strike in the coming academic year.