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Slovenia Teachers Rally, Schools Close as Part of Strike

Thousands of teachers gather during a trade unions rally in downtown Ljubljana, Slovenia, Feb. 14, 2018.

Blowing whistles and horns, thousands of Slovenian teachers rallied for higher wages on Wednesday in the latest in a string of strikes and protests by public sector workers in the small European Union country.

Most schools in Slovenia remained closed because of the one-day strike that drew an estimated 40,000 teachers. The strike follows earlier walk-outs by health care employees, police and firefighters.

More than 10,000 people gathered at a central square in the capital, Ljubljana, holding colorful banners and union balloons and flags. Participants were bused in from all over Slovenia.

"This government must surely know that the level of teachers' salaries is a problem in Slovenia," said Christine Blower from the European Trade Union Committee for Education, who came to offer support.

"Your demands are fair and just," Blower told the cheering crowd. "You must win, you have the arguments!"

There was no immediate response from the government, which has negotiated with the public sector unions in the past months in a bid to avert wider strikes.

Workers' unions are demanding that the wage growth curbed in an austerity package in 2013 be restored amid economic growth. The demands put pressure on the centrist government of Prime Minister Miro Cerar before a parliamentary election later this year.