17 January 2019 14:27

Third teacher strike in Greece: We want the bill to be withdrawn

Panthenonas Teachers Union Organiser, Emilia Tsagaratou writes about the reason behind the third teacher strike in Greece and their demands. 

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Emilia TSAGARATOU
Athens

These days the teachers’ movement in Greece is living one of the most important periods of its history. 
Thousands of teachers have been striking and demonstrating against the proposed bill that will regulate the way that teachers –both permanent and substitute ones– will be appointed. 
The last appointments of permanent teachers took place in Greece in 2010. This means that all the vacant teaching possessions in our schools were covered by substitute teachers, hired on a maximum of a nine-month employment contracts. This school year, 30.000 substitute teachers are working in our schools, with the vast majority of them working each year in a different area. This number  shows the magnitude of needs for permanent appointments of teachers. 

FOR THREE YEARS THE GOVERNMENT KEEPS MAKING PROMISES BUT FAILS TO KEEP THESE

The government SYRIZA –ANEL has been promising for the last three years thousands of permanent appointments.  None of these promised have been kept. Instead, they are passing a bill, which changes the way that teachers will be appointed, this literally means that thousands of our substitute teachers will be fired, since they don’t have all the qualifications required for this. Others will work hundreds of miles away from their homes and families, because they won’t gather the “points” needed in order to work where they have been teaching for many years. 

COMPETITION IS BEING STOKED BETWEEN TEACHERS

The qualifications required according to the bill are mainly post-graduate diplomas and other certificates, which cost thousands of euros. The university degree actually has no worth. In this way the government is forcing teachers to compete each other in order to find a teaching place in our schools. 

THE BILL SHOULD BE WITHDRAWN AND TEACHERS SHOULD BE APPOINTED

This bill has caused anger amongst thousands of teachers. This anger has been aggravated by years of austerity policies and of dismantling public education.  On 11th and 14th December, a strike was called by the teachers unions, demanding the withdrawal of the bill and the permanent appointment of all substitute teachers. 

GOVERNMENT'S CHRISTMAS DIVERSION FAILED 

The government believed that because the bill was actually announced during the Christmas holidays, the educational movement would not have the time to prepare the strike. They were wrong. Thousands of teachers all around Greece closed their schools and demonstrated against the bill. The demonstrations in Athens were the most militant and biggest in recent years. That’s why the police attacked the demonstrators and as a result some of them were seriously injured.  

EFFECTIVE GRASSROOTS PRESSURE FORCED TRADE UNIONS INTO ACTION

It is necessary to point out that the leaderships of the national teachers’ unions (DOE for Primary and OLME for Secondary Education) were obliged to call a strike under the pressure of the grassroot movement. Many local unions and substitute teachers’ collectives occupied the Deanery of the University in the Centre of Athens in order to use it as the “headquarters” for our movement. 

WE CALL ON STUDENTS TO JOIN THE MOVEMENT 

We have been organising various activities and we are calling on all students and the working people to support and join the teachers’ movement. 

The next strike has been called for 17th December, the day the government wants to pass the bill in the Parliament. Irrespectively of what the leaderships of the unions will do, the grassroot  movement is going to continue the struggle until our demands are met.