Bulgarian teachers organised by EI affiliates SEB and PODKREPA started their strike for better working conditions on 25 November. On 18 December, the president of SEB, Janka Takeva, addressed an open letter to the representative of the International Monetary Fund who took part in a meeting with the Bulgarian Ministry of Education.
The teachers' unions do not accept that the education budget, and specifically teachers, should suffer from budget reductions. "In 10 years, the government closed over 1500 schools and kindergardens, over 13,000 teachers and 8,000 non-teaching personnel were made redundant," recalls Janka Takeva. Most teachers have a salary lower than 150 euros. How then can the Bulgarian government, and the IMF, claim that Bulgarian teachers earnt enough and that a wage increase would prejudice the budget balance for 2006? EI will draw the attention of the IMF and the World Bank to the short-term approach adopted so far in the 2006 budget discussion. EI and the World Bank established, in 2004, an informal consultation mechanism to address situations where EI member organisations believe that World Bank officials are not supporting quality public education provisions.