03 Feb 11

Serbian Police Join Striking Teachers

After five days of strikes by teachers throughout Serbia, health care workers and police officers have also announced plans to stop working.

B92

Police officers who belong to the Independent Trade Union of Police, the largest police union in Serbia with 13,000 members, went on strike this morning.

Velimir Barbulov, president of the Union, told B92 on Wednesday that the officers who planned to go on strike today would demand a 40 per cent increase in salaries, a special collective agreement which would be acceptable for the employees, changes to the Law on Police and better equipment.

Barbulov added that the striking police officers would respect the legal minimum of service.

“Police will not perform regular patrol tasks which are preventive and will only respond to things that cannot be delayed, which includes major violations of public law and order, serious criminal acts and everything else that can jeopardise the personal and property safety of citizens and public facilities,” he stressed.

“There will be minor problems with the speed of issuing personal documents and passports, because documents will be issued only for emergencies, and other reasons that cannot be delayed,” Barbulov added.

Health care workers have requested an urgent meeting with the government representatives in order to discuss the financial problems they face.

The president of the Health and Social Protection Employees Union, Branislava Plancak, repeated that workers had demanded an increase in basic wages and the payment of unpaid jubilee awards in December but that nothing had happened other than the resignation of Health Minister Tomica Milosavljevic last week.

“We’re not interested in whether we have a minister or not this time. In this case we don’t see that the health minister is important at all for the things that have to do with the improvement of health care workers’ financial situations,” she explained.

Plancak pointed out that the health care workers had made their requests before the teachers, adding that they supported them.

“Of course we cannot agree that only they get the increase, if there is an increase at all. Our wages are low as well and of course we’ll request that they are increased and we will use all union means to reach this goal,” she explained.

Most schools in Serbia are on strike and classes are either suspended or cut 15 minutes short. It is expected that negotiations between teachers and state officials will continue today.

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