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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Picketing Teachers Demand Pay Hike, Call for Reforms

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Teachers across Russia protested low wages and proposed education reforms Tuesday by delaying morning classes and picketing government offices.

Teachers are some of the lowest-paid workers, and the average monthly teacher's salary last year was 830 rubles ($33.50), according to the Education Ministry.

Vladimir Yakovlev, chairman of the Union of Education and Science Workers, said the union was demanding a 50 percent pay hike for all education workers.

"For the past two years, teachers' salaries have been below the poverty line," Yakovlev said on NTV television. "By the way, the same is true for workers in higher education."

He said a reform program being developed by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry would threaten education funding and endanger free education in Russia.

"We're not saying no to reform. There are many useful and necessary things there, but there are also things that are simply dangerous, by which the government will rid itself of responsibility for the fate of a school and which can pave the way for the spread of paid education," Yakovlev said. He added that any changes should be preceded by a broad public discussion.

RTR television reported that protest actions were planned in 87 of Russia's 89 regions. RTR and NTV showed footage of a demonstration in front of federal offices in Novosibirsk. Teachers from seven Siberian regions took part, the stations said.