Education International
Education International

Greece: Teachers under attack as violence erupts

published 1 July 2011 updated 6 July 2011

Members of Greek teachers’ unions clashed with police forces yesterday as they protested against a set of draconian budget cuts that were approved by parliament on Wednesday. The demonstration was led by the Greek Federation of Secondary State School Teachers (OLME) and the Greek Primary Teachers Federation (DOE) and took place on Syntagma Square in Athens.

Although the Greek trade union movement is aware that reducing public expenditures is necessary, they contest plans that will hit workers and disadvantaged groups unnecessarily hard. The education unions have already dealt with the closure of almost one thousand schools this year and fear that further reduction of the education budget will lead to more closures.

At the Congress of OLME earlier this week, EI General Secretary, Fred van Leeuwen, referred to the conditions which the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have given loans to prevent the country’s bankruptcy, saying: "Greece seems to have been designated as the laboratory of globalisation where financial engineers can freely test their disputable theories, and find out how far you can go in reducing salaries, in reducing pension rights and in taking away valuable public services."

He also stated that it was unacceptable for the government to reduce vital public services such as education while big orders with German and French arms suppliers are not cut back.

Police used tear gas against the demonstrators and around 500 people were injured, including DOE official P. Vainas (pictured), who was committed to the hospital after being beaten by a police officer.