France: teachers strike against the decree on "the service obligations of secondary school teachers"
Half of all secondary school teachers in France responded to the call of their unions to participate in a one-day strike on 18 December. The teachers are protesting against the "decree on the service obligations of secondary school teachers" proposed by Education Minister Gilles de Robien.
According to one of EI's affiliates in France, SNES-FSU, the turnout rate was between 53-55%.
15 teacher unions representing 99% of all teachers in France responded to the mobilisation initiated by SNES-FSU.
More than 10 000 teaching personnel from all over the country marched in Paris in the direction of the Education Ministry.
"This strike action is one of the major ones since 2003," stated SNES-FSU in a press statement. "It is the manifestation of the anger of the teaching profession against an education ministry that is not willing to listen and takes its decisions without consultation."
Teachers are rejecting the proposed decree on their "service obligations" for the following reasons:
- Its primary objective is to remove teaching positions, to the detriment of the profession and that of the pupils (about 3,000 positions will be removed in 2007 and 12,000 in the future);
- The removal of positions will result in the prolongation of working hours or the reduction of salary for some 100 000 teachers remaining in service. The time used to prepare for classes, such as laboratory sessions, which is now considered as part of the working time will not be included should the decree be passed;
- The decree will seriously affect the quality of education while disrespecting the nature of the teaching profession: according to the decree, teachers will have to teach two disciplines one of which may not be they specialise in and will have to move around between two or three schools.
Together with the other teacher unions, SNES-FSU demands that the government:
- withdraws the proposal;
- opens negotiations with the teachers taking into account the reality and are ready to improve the working conditions of teaching personnel.
It is the second time this year that teachers in France went on strike on such a massive scale. In September, 30% of all teachers from pre-school to tertiary went on strike to protest against the removal of the record number of 8,500 teaching positions in the 2007 national budget.