Prague - No classes will be held today in more than half of Czech schools. The union-called strike will be observed by 6,500 schools.
In addition to their strike, teachers will demonstrate in front of the Czech government building at 3 PM today.
Unions estimate that as many as 3,000 people may attend the rally.
The deputy chairwoman of the teachers' union, Markéta Vondráčková, expects the protest to last about 90 minutes, during which time the participants will present their declaration to the government.
Teachers' unions blame inflation for the salary decrease among school employees. The unions have asked Education Minister Ondřej Liška for an additional CZK three billion (EUR 120 million) to compensate for inflation.
Minister Liška responded by promising a maximum increase of CZK 500 million (EUR 20 million) in 2008 and CZK four billion in 2009.
Liška: I don't understand it
In his blog at Aktuálně.cz, Minister Liška claimed that he doesn't understand the reasons for the strike.
"The strike organized by unions will not result in any immediate increase of salaries; it will, on the contrary, harm and complicate our common effort to reach a further improvement," wrote Minister Liška.
Minister Liška doesn't agree with the unionists. As the ministry spokesman explained, "From the minister's point of view, there is no reason for the strike. At this moment, he doesn't see it as rational. And it is because of the economic ministers' meetings that they managed to significantly improve the teachers' financial situation."
The government reacted with a seven percent increase on unions' fears that teachers will receive lower real wages in 2008 than in the previous year. The inflation rate is expected to reach six percent in 2008.
Not the first teachers' strike
The last teachers' strike aimed at increasing wages was organized in December 2007. More than 120,000 school employees - more than half of the regional education system's staff- participated in that strike.
In December 2007, roughly 5,850 out of about 10,500 regional schools went on strike.
In addition, about 1,500 schools expressed solidarity with the strike, which was designed to increase salaries and teachers' resources.
During the December 2007 strike, several hundred teachers demonstrated in front of the Czech Education Ministry and the Chamber of Deputies buildings.
Another one-day, token strike was organized on 1 September 2003.