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North Macedonia schools reopen as three-week strike halted

April 29, 2022 GMT

SKOPJE, North Macedonia (AP) — Students returned to state schools and kindergartens in North Macedonia Friday after teachers’ unions halted a three-week strike that aimed to press for wage hikes.

The government is under pressure from unions amid the cost of living crisis, with the annual rate of inflation hitting a 14-year high in March at 8.8%.

Teachers’ unions are pressing the government for annual salary increases over the next two years which would take their average monthly salary from about 400 euros to 700 euros ($420 to 740).

Main teaching union leader Jakim Nedelkov said the strike had been suspended to allow for arbitration between the union’s leadership and ordinary members who are at odds over whether to accept a government offer covering roughly two-thirds of that demand.

The center-left government recently increased the minimum monthly salary in the country from 247 to 292 euros ($260 to 310), in a bid to ease public discontent over rising living costs triggered by the spike in energy and food prices.

North Macedonia rebounded from a 6.1% recession caused by the pandemic in 2020 to 4% growth last year, but the rate of unemployment remained high at 15.8% in 2021, according to the International Monetary Fund.