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Russia: Teacher union collects one million signatures to amend Education Bill

To protest against stonewalling by lawmakers introducing a new Education Bill, the Education and Science Employees Union of Russia (ESEUR) collected 1,081,934 signatures from its members and had them send 37,959 telegrams to the president, the parliament and the Ministry of Education.

The union started this action after lawmakers dropped amendments made by the union to the draft Education Bill in an earlier consultation process. In fact, discussions with union officials and the general public had been undertaken since 2010, when the government decided to begin a process to adapt and alter the current education law.

First by means of a public webpage, then in a number of meetings and round tables with Ministry of Education officials, the original draft was amended and improved to better fit the needs of Russian teachers and their realities in the classroom.

However, when the proposed bill was then handed over to the State Duma, the Russian parliament, these amendments were dropped and a different version submitted.

Calls and appeals by union officials about this to the government went unanswered. Confronted with such blatant disregard for social dialogue, the union decided to call on its members for support. Rallying to the call, members collected over a million signatures, which were delivered to the State Duma last week.

"We are waiting for the authorities to respond," said Galina Merkulova, ESEUR President. "New legislation on education matters affects Russia's millions of teachers directly and immediately - there is no excuse for teachers' voices not to be heard in the process."

"Social dialogue is essential for the implementation of successful education policies," said Martin Rømer, ETUCE European Director. "We urge the Russian government to come back to the table and continue negotiations. The very impressive number of signatures collected shows how important the issue is to Russian teachers."

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