Education International
Education International

Greece: Teachers plan new strikes for September

published 8 August 2011 updated 6 September 2011

Teachers and university professors in Greece are planning a new wave of strikes in September after seeing their pay and benefits cut by the equivalent of two months of pay a year. Hundreds of thousands of people, including teachers, have been demonstrating on the streets of Greece over the last few months, in opposition to the austerity measures which have been imposed to reduce the level of public debt.

As the Greek government continues to enact demands from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU), young people in Greece – like those who precipitated the revolutions in Arabic speaking countries in the Middle East and North Africa – have been especially vocal in expressing concerns about their future. Even highly qualified young people are unemployed or engaged in low paid and precarious work.

The demonstrations which have taken place over July and August have been led by young people, known as the ‘aganaktismenoi’ or the ‘frustrated ones’.

Teachers have also been in the forefront of this movement as investment in education – like other public services – has been cut.

Investigations by Teachers Solidarity report that ‘more than 1,000 schools are scheduled for closure, teachers’ posts are being made redundant, and may eventually – if at all – be replaced by cheaper temporary staff, while in-service training is abolished and class sizes rise’. Even teaching materials have become unavailable. Ahead of the new school year, only five of the 1,200 textbook titles needed for the new term have been printed because the Greek organisation which publishes educational books has been abolished and there is no paper.

Over the last few months Greek teachers have been involved in general strikes, demonstrations and occupations.

In February, EI published a call from the Greek teaching unions for joint action in Europe. As governments all over the EU continue to attack education in an effort to shore up the crumbling economic system, this call can only become more urgent.