Education International
Education International

Greece: Sign union petition to save public education

published 13 August 2013 updated 14 August 2013

The Greek Federation of Secondary State School Teachers (OLME), one of EI’s national affiliates, has organised an online petition to protest against the planned suspension and dismissal of Greek teachers.

The Greek government is planning tough austerity measures which may result in additional suspensions and dismissals of workers in the public sector, mainly in education, health care and municipalities. The suspensions would concern up to 8,200 workers in September alone and 12,500 by the end of December 2013. Additionally, 4,000 public sector workers would face direct dismissal by the end of 2013 and 14,000 by the end of 2014.

Under the European Troika-inspired plans, 2,500 teachers in Greece would be condemned to an eight-month suspension prior to their dismissal. The government’s policy of implementing continuous cuts in education also means that more schools will merge or close during this year.

New law to hit vocational education

The Minister of Education is also expected to submit to the Parliament a new law on vocational education for adoption by the end of August and implementation in schools in September, OLME deplored.

The proposed law will lead to the closure of three sectors of Greek vocational education (health, art and cosmetics). In September, 20,000 students will be unable to attend classes in their vocational education institutions. According to OLME, the Government is conceding a large part of vocational secondary education to the private sector.

The trade union further condemns the fact that it receives information from the press only and has been given no opportunity for dialogue with the Minister. OLME is planning strikes and other actions after schools open in September.

Reaffirming that quality public education is not a privilege and should be available to every child without social or financial discriminations, OLME demands that:

  • No teacher be suspended or dismissed
  • No sector of the public vocational education system be closed down
  • The Greek Government stop destroying the country’s public education system through massive cutbacks and dismissals.

ILO requests social dialogue in Greece

In June, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Committee on the Application of Standards also reviewed the Greek situation.

The Committee observed that “the outstanding issues in this case concerned numerous interventions in collective agreements and allegations that, within the context of austerity measures imposed by loan agreements between the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund and the Greek Government in a context characterised as grave and exceptional, collective bargaining was seriously weakened and the autonomy of the bargaining partners violated”.

The Committee requested the Greek Government to intensify its efforts to establish a functioning model of social dialogue on all issues of concern with a view to promoting collective bargaining, social cohesion and social peace.

ETUCE condemns attack on Greek public services

“We have already reacted against these lay-offs and I have written a personal letter to EU Commission President Barroso,” said Martin Rømer, Director of the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), EI’s European region. “Cutting in spending for education is in no way a solution to recover from the economic and financial crisis. In fact, it is quite the opposite!”

ETUCE will also meet with the European Federation of Public Service Unions to discuss joint initiatives on Greece as it is ETUCE’s opinion that the national public sector in Greece, especially education and health care, is not functioning any more, he added.

EI urges member organisations, teachers, parents, students, trade unionists and concerned citizens to sign the petition here

You can read the full EI’s Country Study on Greece submitted to the ILO here