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The school year began with a strike of teachers

11 September 2012 / 19:09:09  GRReporter
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Anastasia Balezdrova

The first bell rang, the Blessing was also pronounced but pupils in Greece will stay at home tomorrow because their teachers will strike. As the union of teachers in primary and secondary education explained at a press conference, the new school year started with indebted schools and an insufficient number of teachers.

According to the data they presented, the schools in the town of Kozani owe more than 439 thousand euro, those in the Athens suburb of Maroussi - 230 thousand euro and the schools in the region of Patras owe 200 thousand euro. As indicated, this will cause serious problems with heating, especially after the excise duty on heating fuel has become equal to that of diesel. Trade unionists said that at their meeting with Education Minister Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos yesterday, they have demanded the exemption of heating fuel for schools from taxes as it applies to the heating fuel used by the military. According to them, the Minister replied that it would be fair, but did not say anything specific. Furthermore, they added that the 8th primary and secondary school in Athens would remain without heating because the natural gas supplier DEPA has interrupted the supplies because of unpaid bills from the last year.

Another pending issue is the transportation of approximately 200 thousand students from their villages to the schools in larger towns, especially in regions where not all obligations for the transportation of students have been paid to the bus companies.

"Apart from textbooks, where we have made some progress, all other issues related to education are in a tragic situation," the chairman of the union of teachers in secondary schools Nikos Papahristos said. He noted that over the last three years, the number of his colleagues in secondary schools decreased by 11,062 , i.e. a decrease of 11.7 per cent compared with 2009. 3,150 teachers retired this year and 185 were appointed but 40 of them did not accept the appointment. "It seems that being a teacher is not as prestigious as before and especially after the salary cuts," Nikos Papahristos said.

At the same time, he said that the number of teachers in some areas is higher than required and therefore urged the Ministry to speed up the procedures of transferring them to other regions where there is a lack of personnel. "Instead of doing so, the Ministry preferred to employ teachers with contracts for services," he said. His colleague from the union of teachers in primary education Komninos Mandas noted, however, that these teachers would not be able to attend the schools, to which they have been transferred, before the end of September, as the Ministry of Education has not yet announced the list of assignments.

He drew particular attention to schools for children with disabilities that were established three years ago "with much of a fuss and fanfare," without appointing a teacher at them. "They have only teachers on annual contracts, although the specific job needs permanent qualified personnel."

Teachers’ trade union representatives stated firmly that they would not allow another cut in their salaries, extension of their working hours and evaluation of their work. According to the secretary of the union of secondary education teachers, "the conditions will become even harder after the introduction of the new austerity measures. The Ministry of Education insists on this evaluation that will inevitably lead to a regime of labour resources and dismissals, which is the ultimate goal. And this will cause problems in the educational process."

Representatives of the two trade unions said their protest would continue without affecting the pupils. None of them explained exactly how this would happen.


Tags: SocietySchool yearTrade unions of teachersStrike
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