By calling for stronger collective bargaining for teachers at the annual ILO Conference in Geneva, Education International has emphasised the importance of the teaching profession and quality education needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Speaking to delegates at the 105th Session of the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Haldis Holst, Education International (EI) Deputy General Secretary reminded government representatives that they "must listen to the voice of teachers through their unions." Holst delivered her remarks during the plenary session on 1 June 2016.
“Teachers and education are part of the solution in achieving many of the objectives in the new UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said Holst. “Teachers have a key role in addressing today’s and tomorrow’s social endeavours. They are considered essential actors for societies when tackling challenges and change, such as preventing extremism and securing the rights of refugees and displaced people.”
She noted, however, that austerity policies were “eating into education budgets in many countries” and that the financial crisis had been used as an excuse to roll back fundamental rights at work, including the right to strike.
“Quality education does not just happen. Quality education requires qualified, well trained and well supported professionals. Teachers must be valued by society,” she said, adding that “their professional autonomy must be respected and they should be listened to through collective bargaining institutions.”
The EI Deputy General Secretary also drew attention to the disturbing increase in the growth of precarious work for teachers and other education workers and the general push for privatisation and de-professionalization in the sector.
Education International is joined in Geneva by a 15-union delegation to participate in the work of the Committees on the Application of Standards, on Decent Work in Supply Chains, and on Employment and Decent Work for the Transition to Peace. The Conference continues until 10 June.