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Poland's teachers protest over pay

Poland's teachers protest over pay

Thousands of teachers from across Poland have marched in Warsaw, demanding the country's new government raise wages in elementary and secondary education.

The protestors demanded a meeting with Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk.

Organisers said 12,000 teachers took part in the demonstration, the largest since Mr Tusk took office in November after his Civic Platform defeated the conservative-nationalist government of Jaroslaw Kaczynski in a snap election.

Mr Tusk's party campaigned on promises of creating an 'economic miracle' in Poland that would benefit all, similar to the spectacular growth in fellow EU member Ireland.

The education ministry has proposed a 200-zloty (€55) wage hike, but the teachers' union wants 600 zlotys for junior staff and 11,000 zlotys for senior staff.

Teachers are among the worst paid public sector employees in Poland, with maximum gross salaries for senior teachers running under 2,000 zlotys per month. Salaries for public sector nurses and physicians are comparably low.

The new government has become the target of several groups of public sector employees. Health service staff have also staged protests demanding wage rises in recent weeks.

Coal miners from the southern Polish Silesian coal basin staged underground protests, while their wives lobbied for wage hikes in Warsaw yesterday.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

They get 3 months holiday and are paid 13 months a year. They also get loads of perks, travel discount, help with holidays for kids, ..............

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Dajwid, you keep repeating this same information like it proves something. Let's look at a few of your examples:

1. The 13th month of pay - this happens after you have worked for a full calendar year (not a school year). A beginning teacher makes approximately 700 snots a month, the average wage is around 1400 snots a month, and at the top of the scale a teacher can make about 1900 snots a month. Simple math shows that the 13th month adds an average of approximately 120 snots per month to a teacher's salary. Wow! And when salaries are reported in the media, they generally include the 13th month. And all these figures are before taxes. So the take home pay is actually lower.

2. I'd like to know what you mean by "loads of perks". Can you be more specific? As for the travel discounts - if you mean a PKP legitymacja, well that was true about 10 years ago. PKP stopped allowing legitymacjas years ago except for osobowy trains for students/pensioners. And even then it is not a 50% discount. I personally don't know of a teacher with a legitymacja.

3. Help for holidays with kids... At one of the places I work this year the "help" I received for my kid was a bag with 55 zl worth of cookies and candy. How do I know it was 55 zl? The school accountant made sure I signed a receipt for "my package". The other place gave an extra 30 zl in December. Don't get me wrong, it was nice, and they don't have to give you anything, but is 85 zl really "help"? Is it significant?

4. When you count the Christmas, Winter, Easter, and summer holidays, teachers do get about 3 months of holiday. I think that it more than makes up for all of the hours spent the other 9 months lesson planning, grading, chaperoning, meeting with parents, and listening to directors and such tell you that you need to do more.

I think a lot of the frustration that the public sector employees are showing stems from the fact that there is such a huge discrepancy between public sector and private sector wages. When you consider the educational credentials needed to be a doctor, nurse, or teacher, the workload that comes with the job, and the need to stay current in your field (not so bad for foreign language teachers, but what about the science teachers?), and then compare it to salaries for other workers, it is disturbing. A few days ago someone posted here that a postal worker makes around 2000 zl a month. Nothing wrong with that (good for the postal workers), but delivering the mail is a job; medicine and education are professions. What does it say about a society that pays more for its mail than its children or its health?

One last question for Dajwid - perhaps I am wrong, but you worked in a public school here in Poland for a time, correct? And then you opened your own school/business, correct? If being a teacher in a Polish school has so many advantages (a whole extra month of pay, 3 months of paid vacation, loads of perks, travel help, holiday help for your kids), why did you stop working at the Polish school?

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

I left due to non stop winging from the teachers. I see it still goes on.
If you don't like the job do something else....
Very simple.
The job is normally done by mums, they do it, as they can be at homewith the kids, try finding another job that is better for them.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Where in the world does a shop assistant, postman or car mechanic earn more than a teacher?

In Poland they often do.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

It's too bad your former co-workers made the conditions so disagreeable that you decided to leave. My overall point was twofold:

1. Teacher's salaries are low and the benefits are not what they once were. I talk with 'old timers" and they tell me of times (communist) when schools offered more for teachers (professional development, courses, accommodation and, yes, benefits) and students (clubs, sport teams, activities). The cost of living has clearly outpaced salary increases. For teachers to ask for a living wage is not all that unreasonable. Let's be honest, no one goes into teaching for the money, but it would be nice if people didn't have to work at two or three schools.

2. People (Poles and non-Poles) still think that teachers do have all those benefits and will insinuate that teachers shouldn't complain about their work conditions. So many people think they know about schools because, after all, they were all students. But who knows better than teachers about the demands of living on a teacher's salary? If people can entrust teachers with their children, why can't people trust them when they say they need a little bit more?

For me, personally, I don't teach for the money. I get a lot more out of teaching than just a paycheck. That still doesn't stop me from occasionally worrying about how much longer I can make use of my crappy 12 year-old-French car or whether we can afford a trip back to the U.S. in the summer. Of course I would want to be paid more, who wouldn't? A two week strike would really open a lot of eyes...

One other thing... teachers' ranks are full of mothers, fathers, grandparents, and people without children. I don't know anyone (in Poland or the U.S.) who chose the profession for convenience.

Sorry for the non stop winging; teachers tend to do that you know. But then again the school is probably better off without you, and you are probably happier not being there. A win-win for everybody.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Thank you Magda...


Sorry, I don't know how to post the actual clip in here.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

60+ local foreign language teachers did recently get an all expenses paid weekend training course at a local hotel. The course, food, accomodation was funded by the EU. Th course itself was utterly and totally useless. The food was very nice though .

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Copy and paste the EMBED code.

P.S - I fully agree with Wild Phelps comments

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Many Polish teachers are lazy. How many teachers are always off sick. Getting paid to have babies.
They paid well enough for what many of them do.
Worked in a few public schools over a long period of time.
As I said if you don't like it go get another job.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

To be fair there are lazy and substandard teachers in every country. Also isn't everyone paid to have babies. Maternity leave is universal in the developed world.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Not for a year it's not.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

You can have end to end babies in the UK only having to come in for a day to go off on your next lot of maternity leave.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Most teachers are lazy and wouldn’t last a day in the private sector anyway.

The fact is that the best and brightest are not attracted to the profession. Most become teachers because of all the ‘benefits’, easy hours, and all those days off.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

...not to say that there aren't many excellent teachers who are truly in it to educate the young minds, etc. They're the ones that truly make the difference.

But, those are far few in between

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Thank you for qualifying your post MikeC. I was deliberating whether or not to rise to the bait. You bring up a point worth discussing.

I think your comment can be applied to any career or profession. Good teaching requires more than just knowledge: it requires people skills, patience, and diligence (and a host of other attributes that cannot be easily listed). I think we have all had a teacher who obviously knew a lotbut could not convey it to the students. The teaching skill set is peculiar.

You mention the best and brightest go into the private sector. I think there is a very good reason for it: the value societies put into education. Why do you think 50% of new teachers end up leaving within the first two years? And another 20% leave within the first five years? Two reasons. First, teaching is a lot harder than people think. Two, why work so hard for such a small salary if you can make more in the private sector?

If you want to see a country that truly values education look at Finland. Teaching is considered to be one of the most respected professions in the country. Salaries are high, and competition for teaching positions is fierce. All teachers are required to have at least an MA. Put some value - societal and financial on something, and people will respond.

MikeC - If we (here I mean the U.S. - sorry to all the non-Americans out there) spent a quarter of what we spend on the defense budget on education, think of the possibilities. Schools would be palaces. The best and brightest would be fighting for jobs as teachers. Of course it is just a pipe dream of a teacher who has been grading too much. I need to stop now. I'm supposed to be checking if any students have e-mailed me some essays at the last minute. Grades are due tomorrow. I still have another hour of work or so... "Easy hours" - are you including the lesson prep and grading in your phrase?

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Ignorance is bliss

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Another way to respond to MikeC's post (in reference to my stats about teacher retention):

The private sector is full of people who couldn't (or wouldn't) last in a school.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

One of the most damaging aspects of teaching currently in the United States is the segregated career path that teachers unions have fomented. This is created by the combination of requiring M.A.’ s in education and by only counting years of teaching service in computing pay scales. This has effectively excluded mid-career path persons with experience taking up teaching.

Back in High School the two best teachers I had were rather late into the profession. The mathematics instructor had been over twenty years in television broadcasting and the science instructor had been a chemist for Monsanto for over a decade. Back in those days what was required was an associate’s decree in teaching and schools would place you on a pay scale recognizing other work experience.

Today, those that may choose to take up teaching after other work experience simply cannot afford to take several years off to obtain the specialized teaching credentials just to start at the bottom of the pay scale.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Wildhelps, I agree with everything you said except that spending more resources will somehow improve results (this pertains to the US).

K-12: There are many school boards (in ONE county, there are single states with several) in the US with billion (that’s BILLION+) dollar budgets. Granted, mandatory busing (stupidity in the 21st century) takes up large portions of these budgets, we are talking about obscene amounts of money. At the end of the day, test results speak for themselves and clearly illustrate that there is no correlation between money spent per student and test results or grades.

Second, Teacher Unions are the cause of many problems in education (US). They’re preoccupied with politics instead of teaching, there have been numerous scandals involving embezzlement, and they fight any mandatory measures of accountability.
Anyway – this could go on forever but my only point was that throwing money around won’t solve the problem.

And as far as defense budget: Forget about the fact that our military guards our freedoms and protects our interests for a second. Think about how many high paying jobs are created and the ripple effect on local economy (including universities) whenever a defense –related manufacturer opens up a production facility anywhere in the US.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

First let me say this has been one of our most substantive threads in months...

I agree that there is malfeasance in education throughout the world. And there is corruption and malfeasance in defense budgets as well.

Blackwater. Halliburton.

Wherever there is (any) government spending, there is probably also some malfeasance. I saw it as soldier in the U.S. Army, I saw it as a volunteer in the Peace Corps, and I have seen it as a teacher in the U.S. and in Poland.

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

malfeasance - that's a word one seldom comes across

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Sounds like a cajun dish

Re: Poland's teachers protest over pay

Ant to mange to use it so many times in a couple of lines deserves respect indeed.

I will have one with rice please