published 5 June 2019 updated 24 June 2019


Start of European Policy Network on Teachers and School Leadership project

In January, the European Education Policy Network - European Policy Network on Teachers and School Leadership (EEPN) project started with the leadership of European School Heads Association (ISHA), and co-applicants are EI’s regional office, the European Trade Union Committtee for Education and the European Federation of Education Employers  (ETUCE and EFEE). The project’s planned duration is 2019–2021. It aims at improving school leadership and collegial governance, advocating teachers' needs and promoting quality teaching.

Kosovo: ETUCE supports SBASHK Demands and calls for solidarity

Education sector employees in Kosovo have been subjected to a series of broken promises and commitments from the authorities from the lack of implementation of collective agreements to action by government and by the Parliament against the rights and interests of teachers and other education workers. ETUCE has worked with its member organisation, imformed other members and called for solidarity.

EU CONVINCE Project’s 2nd training workshop in France

The second training workshop of the project EU Common Values Inclusive Education(EU CONVINCE) took place on 5 March  in Paris. It focused on the “whole-school approach as a tool to prevent radicalisation and extremism”. Along with training workshops, ETUCE and its partners, European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE) and the European School Heads Association (ESHA) carried out an online survey amongst their respective member organisations to identify the challenges and good practices around the promotion of citizenship education and universal values of freedom, tolerance and non-discrimination. ​This event drew attention to the increasing need for a sustainable and fair education systems in Europe.

EI/ETUCE has published documents emphasising the need for inclusive education systems offering equal opportunities to all students, no matter their race, gender, nationality or ability.The EU CONVINCE Project's Closing Conference will be held from 14-15 November 2019.

Education unions join in solidarity with teachers in Turkey

Education trade unionists from around the world meet in Ankara on 6 and 7 March for the “Education Trade Unions, Rights, Freedoms and Governments International Symposium”, in solidarity with embattled Turkish education unionists struggling for the respect of their rights, their profession and for education as a whole.

The international symposium organised by Eğitim Sen features discussions of Turkish trade unionists with their colleagues from Europe and other regions. Sessions cover trade union rights violations, including country cases, the role of unions on education policy and their relations with governments, issues of academic freedom and the roles of trade unions and governments, and furthering gender equality through trade union action and education policy.

The symposium is part of the ongoing struggle to defend the rights of teachers to have free, independent unions and the collective power to protect freedom and basic human dignity. It deepens the international understanding and unity in defence of common trade union values.

Members of the international delegation present at the symposium to show support for Turkish colleagues are, among others: DAÜ-SEN, KTOEOS and KTÖS/Cyprus, FNEC FP-FO, SNES-FSU and SNESUP-FSU/France, GEW/Germany, DOE and OLME/Greece, NASUWT and UCU/UK, and NEA/USA.

An EI delegation asked for a meeting with Turkey’s Minister of National Education, Prof. Ziya Selçuk, to discuss trade union and education issues. There was no response to the request for dialogue from the Government of Turkey. An EI mission however met with ILO and EU representatives on the same issues.

ETUCE Hearing “Shaping the future of Europe with teachers”

Gathering high-level representatives from education trade unions in Europe as well as representatives from different actors and civil society organisations working on education, ETUCE held a hearing in the framework of its campaign “Shaping the future of Europe with teachers” on 12 March, in Brussels. In light of the elections for the European Parliament in May 2019 and the global campaign against privatisation and globalisation in education, this ETUCE campaign aims to build the attractiveness of the teaching profession and call on politicians at European, national, regional and local levels to take an active stance for quality education together with teachers and their unions, with a view to ensuring that teachers are given the necessary support and resources to help bring about a brighter future for Europe.

Higher Education and Research Standing Committee meeting

Education unions’ representatives from 20 European countries gathered from 21-22 February in Brussels for the Higher Education and Research Standing Committee (HERSC) meeting. Building upon the resolution proposed by HERSC and adopted at the ETUCE’s Special Conference in November 2018, this meeting was the occasion to discuss the challenges to academic freedom, as well as ways to strengthen the fundamental values of higher education institutions across Europe.

Participants adopted a solidarity call against the new tuition fee initiative of the French government, discussed quality assurance, European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education (ESSDE) working group meetings, recent developments of the Bologna Process, in particular the upcoming Anniversary Conference in June 2019 and the Ministerial Conference in 2020, EI's recent activities and European policy development (Romanian Council Presidency, Erasmus Proposal and the Horizon Proposal). HERSC members also agreed to prepare a research paper on the impact of working conditions on the Bologna Process for the Rome ministerial meeting.

Training workshop in the framework of the “Empowering education trade unions to address gender equality in the teaching profession through social dialogue” project

A training workshop took place on 28-29 March in Munich, Germany, gathering more than 25 participants, representing trade unions in Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, in the framework of the “Empowering education trade unions to address gender equality in the teaching profession through social dialogue” Project.

Participants exchanged with fellow trade unionists on gender equality, including horizontal and vertical segregation in the education sector, work-life balance challenges, gender pay and pension gaps in the teaching profession and gender-based violence in the workplace. They provided examples of actions undertaken within their respective unions to address gender inequality such as establishing gender equality departments within trade unions, engaging staff dedicated to gender equality policy, introducing quotas to ensure greater representation of women in decision-making positions, and setting up women’s organising forums to promote female engagement in unions.

The workshop was also an opportunity to collect recommendations for the ETUCE Action Plan on Gender Equality.

The Project’s Final Conference is due to take place in Bucharest, Romania, from 16-17 September 2019. The conference’s main discussions will focus on the results of the project activities, including the final research report and the online database of good practices identified in the survey and workshops; the project’s relevance to European stakeholders; and a new ETUCE Action Plan on Gender Equality.

Bologna Follow-Up Group plenary meeting in Romania

From 5-6 April, a Bologna Follow-Up Group (BFUG) plenary meeting was held in Bucharest. It focused on the future of the Bologna Process from structural and political perspectives and on the preparation for the Rome Ministerial meeting. ETUCE stressed that higher education staff working conditions should be discussed in connection with the implementation of the Bologna Process and its principles.

Support to educators in Poland

In light of the strike action in education in Poland that began on 8 April, a substantial number of ETUCE member organisations have been addressing strong messages of support and solidarity backing the demands of teachers and other education personnel for a salary increase, revendications that followed failed negotiations with the Polish Government.

ETUCE wrote to ZNP, one of its member organisations, stating that “we share your disagreement with the Polish Government who is reluctant to ensure that teachers’ salaries be raised to become equal with the country’s average salary. This is unacceptable. Attacks from the government on teachers, their working and employment conditions further exacerbate the low status of the teaching profession and undermine the quality of education and teaching. ETUCE supports your request for a substantial increase in public funding in education with a view to sustainably promote the status of teachers”.

Although the strike had the overwhelming support of Polish teachers and effectively shut down the schools, the authorities refused to negotiate on the major trade union demands.

Demonstration “A Fairer Europe for Workers”

Around 8,000 trade unionists from all over Europe took part in a demonstration on 16 April in Brussels calling for “A fairer Europe for workers” organised by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The aim was to draw attention to the European elections, and spread trade union demands for a better and more social Europe, better pay and better working and living conditions.

ETUCE member organisations from across Europe responded to the call to demonstrate and colleagues from Belgium, France, Kosovo, Estonia, the United Kingdom and Italy marched together to raise awareness on the four key demands of ETUCE’s ongoing campaign “Shape the Future of Europe with Teachers” in view of the upcoming elections to the European Parliament.

“Nordic Way–Early Childhood Education and Care” Conference in Norway

An international conference entitled, “The Nordic Way–Early Childhood Education and Care”, was organised from 26-27 March in Oslo. It was convened by Union of Education Norway (UEN), in partnership with the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and the Nordic Council of Ministers. The conference was attended by 300 participants from nearly 50 countries, including Education Ministers other policy makers, education union representatives, early childhood education (ECE) educators, researchers and academics.  It shared extensive information and generated an in-depth discussion concerning the Nordic approach to ECE, highlighting its particular focus on the rights of children, respect, trust and play.

One of the threads running throughout the Conference was the importance of play as being the principal means for small children to learn and develop. The Nordic pedagogical tradition is built around observing and understanding what children are expressing, including with the “language” of play.

Support to educators in The Netherlands

On 14 March, ETUCE supported its affiliate, the Algemene Onderwijsbond(AOb) in its demand to the Government of the Netherlands to substantially increase public funding in education 2019. There is serious concern about a teachers’ shortage.

The general strike and other actions produced some funding adjustments, salary increases, and working time reductions.

Support to educators in Portugal

In Portugal, ETUCE supported the large national demonstration of teachers and education workers held on 23 March and continuing actions, up to and including strike action. Portuguese teachers made great sacrifices, including long, salary freezes due to austerity programmes linked with the global financial crisis. To date, trade unions have been unable to obtain satisfaction in efforts to remedy those effective reductions.