Education International
Education International

Greece: education unionists face down police violence

published 3 March 2014 updated 4 March 2014

On 28 February, the Greek Federation of Secondary State School Teachers (OLME), one of EI’s national affiliates, organised a demonstration in Athens against the proposed dismissal of 12,500 education workers by 22 March. This demonstration took place at the same time as the Troika’s representatives were discussing permanent teachers and other public servants’ dismissals with Greek Government Ministers. Demonstrators underwent a violent attack from the police forces, with 18 demonstrators arrested and four injured and transferred to the hospital.

“We denounce the unprecedented violent incidents caused by the police’s continuous attacks wherever we protest against the suspensions and dismissals, and against the policies of the Greek Government, the IMF and the EU,” said OLME President Themis Kotsifakis, who was among those arrested. “The Government, scared by the growing reaction of workers struggling for their right to permanent and stable jobs, released the forces of repression to terrify us.”

Video of the 28 February’s demonstration in front of the Ministry for Administrative Reform:

Struggle will continue

OLME also firmly denounces the autocratic actions of the Greek Government, he highlighted.

Kotsifakis declared that teachers and demonstrators will not be terrified by the attacks and will continue their struggle, so that not a single one of their colleagues or a single worker is fired.

“We are struggling for permanent and stable jobs for everyone,” he went on to say. “Terrorism will not be tolerated and our struggle will continue until the final victory.”

Video from the Alpha TV news bulletin dated 28 February:

EI: Right to demonstrate must be respected

EI has expressed its solidarity with its Greek colleagues. “ETUCE and its affiliates strongly condemn the outburst of violence by police forces against teachers, workers and citizens demonstrating,” said Martin Rømer, Director of the EI’s European region, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE).

Teachers in Europe and the world over cannot and will not tolerate any longer the brutal implementation of austerity measures and the breaking down of public services, he added.

He also urged Greek public authorities to respect the teachers and workers’ right to demonstrate, as it is a trade union right, and called on them to engage in social dialogue and ensure quality education in the country.