The EI Congress supports the struggle of teachers and people in Greece, Portugal and Ireland, countries subject to “rescue” programs imposed by the troika (EU-ECB-IMF) through drastic measures as well as other agreements signed up by these countries’ governments. Due to the pressure imposed by financial markets and rating agencies, tougher measures were approved in June and July in Greece and in Portugal.
It is a well known fact the EU and the IMF used the financial crisis as a pretext to impose an tough austerity policies characterized by drastic salary cuts (in Greece a total of 3 salaries less per annum), reductions on pensions, an increase of the retirement age limit, flexible working conditions, and privatization of public services. These measures have led to higher unemployment and less social protection, thus more injustice, more inequality and more poverty.
Public property is being dismantled, demolished and sold out. In education, the priority is to reduce costs to make public school systems cheaper. The negative consequences on teachers’ working conditions, the merging and closure of school units, and the preparations for a market and a business oriented school will mortgage the future because there is no solution to the crisis without more and better education. Similar austerity measures are being implemented in other European countries such as Italy, Spain, France, etc.
In this context, the 6th EI Congress expresses its full solidarity with the workers of these countries - especially those from the education sector, and their unions - and calls for a strong trade union response both from the ETUCE and ETUC, towards Parliament, Council, Commission and the European Central Bank. A response that opposes to the “inevitability” of austerity, alternative programs of investment and development that generate sustainable growth and employment and hence income of revenues and taxes – condition to solve debt and deficit problems. A response that defends employment, better wages and pensions, universal social protection, a fairer distribution of wealth, public education and other basic social rights. European citizens should not pay for the consequences of a debt they are not responsible for.
It is EI’s role, at European and world level, to promote and coordinate this struggle against these policies and support the proposals from member organizations which are asking for a transparent and independent debt audit, as well as for the renegotiation of the debt.