Government urged to explain backing of for-profit education in The Netherlands
On 14 February, Dutch Socialist Party MPs announced the tabling of questions in parliament challenging their government’s support for Bridge International Academies. One of the questions posed to the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development is: “Do you think it is justified to finance, directly or indirectly, for-profit education with public money?”
Joint meeting of International NGOs and Northern Education Coalitions in the UK
The Joint meeting of International NGOs and Northern Education Coalitions organised by the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) took place from 22-23 February in London. The meeting aimed to strengthen the global education movement, prepare for the Global Action Week for Education (GAWE), and plan for 2017. It brought together GCE international NGO members, national GCE coalitions from Europe and North America, including teachers union representatives, as well as other education campaigning organisations and speakers from GPE, Education Cannot Wait and the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.
Barbara Geier of the German Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft(GEW), Moira Leydon of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), and Louise Hoj Larsen represented EI at the meeting.
Economic governance: ETUCE contributes to assessment of country reports on education and training
On 22 February, the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) published a document outlining its education and training priorities, policy challenges, and member organisations’ views on their own national situations. This document contributed to the assessment by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) of the European Semester’s Country Reports.
In its contribution, ETUCE welcomed the focus on inclusive education and teachers’ professional development. It strongly opposed the Country Reports’ focus on enhancing private financing, including public-private partnerships, performance-based funding, enhanced cooperation between businesses and universities, and the commercialisation of public universities’ research outcomes in higher education and research.
New ETUCE project on teachers’ professional needs
On 22 February, ETUCE held in Brussels, Belgium, the first advisory group’s meeting for the new project, “Education Trade Unions for the Teaching Profession. Strengthening the capacity of education trade unions to represent teachers’ professional needs in social dialogue”.
The advisory group includes representatives of ETUCE member organisations from Germany (GEW), Poland ( Zwiazek Nauczycielstwa Polskiego-ZNP), Italy (UIL Scuola), Latvia ( Latvijas Izglītības un zinātnes darbinieku arodbiedrība-LIZDA), Finland ( Opetusalan Ammattijärjestö-OAJ), and Lithuania (Federation of Lithuanian Education and Science Trade Unions-FLESTU).
At the meeting, the partners discussed the project’s objectives and expected outcomes, and prepared an online survey to assess European teachers’ professional needs and how these needs can be met by education trade unions via social dialogue.
The meeting was coordinated by Agnes Roman and Ekaterina Efimenko for EI/ETUCE.
EI/ETUCE mission to Turkey
The EI/ETUCE organised a mission to Ankara on 27-28 February. The mission was led by ETUCE President Christine Blower and ETUCE European Director Susan Flocken, and comprised representatives from 11 member organisations from Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The delegation met representatives from EI affiliate Eğitim Sen, the Turkish Confederation of Public Employees' Trade Unions (KESK), the Delegation of the European Union to Turkey, the ILO, and UNICEF, and with officials of various embassies in Ankara, along with dismissed teachers.
ETUC event for International Women’s Day
On 7 March, to celebrate International Women’s Day, ETUC hosted in Brussels, Belgium, a panel discussion entitled “Can a pay rise make a dent into the persistent gender pay and pensions gaps?”
ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini underlined that closing the gender gap should be seen as an economic imperative, and a pay rise would be the greatest economic stimulus package Europe has ever seen.
Ekaterina Efimenko and Marthe Stamer attended the event for EI/ETUCE.
Tripartite Social Summit in Belgium
On 8 March,the European Tripartite Social Summit, gathering the Presidents of EU institutions and the European social partners, was held in Brussels. It dedicated 2017 to “The future of Europe: charting the course towards growth, employment and fairness”. The cross-sectoral social partners’ delegation handed over a framework agreement on Active Ageing and an Intergenerational Approach to the European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, the Council President, Donald Tusk, and the Maltese Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat.
ETUCE European Director Susan Flocken attended the Summit.
Investing in education: advisory group meeting in Belgium
On 10 March, the advisory group of the project, “Investing in Education: Strengthening the involvement of Teacher Trade Unions in the European Semester on Education and Training” met in Brussels. The meeting gathered representatives from ETUCE member organisation project partners from Denmark (Danish Union of Teachers-DLF), Italy (FLC-CGIL), Lithuania (FLESTU), Slovenia (Education, Science and Culture Trade Union of Slovenia-ESTUS), and Malta (Malta Union of Teachers-MUT).
Participants discussed the outcomes of the project survey research on privatisation patterns across Europe conducted by the University of Nottingham. They also prepared for the upcoming final project conference, “Education in Europe: Public Investment, Privatisation and Reforms. What role do education trade unions play?” to take place in Brussels on 30 May.
The meeting was coordinated by Paola Cammilli for EI/ETUCE.
ETUCE Higher Education and Research Standing Committee’s meeting in Belgium
From 14-15 March, the ETUCE Higher Education and Research Standing Committee (HERSC) met in Brussels, with more than 40 delegates representing 26 European countries attending the event. The Committee expressed its solidarity with dismissed teachers and academics in Turkey, and demanded that European ministers raise awareness about the persecution of Turkish education personnel.
The Committee also discussed the 30thAnniversary of the Erasmus mobility programme and the European Commission’s Proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market in light of digitalisation and intellectual property rights of academics and researchers. They learned about the work of the European Quality Assurance Registry (EQAR) and expressed their concerns on the developments of the European Pension Fund for Researchers (RESAVER).
The ETUCE Secretariat organised the event, and ETUCE European Director Susan Flocken, Agnes Roman, and Ekaterina Efimenko participated in the event for EI/ETUCE
Social partners in education sign historic sectoral agreement in Georgia
On 16 March, the Educators’ and Scientists’ Free Trade Union of Georgia (ESFTUG) hosted a ceremony to celebrate the historical signing of the Sectoral Agreement on Education. ESFTUG is a member organisation of the ETUCE member organisation.
The Agreement is a significant development for the education trade union, which was on the brink of collapse a few years ago due to severe attacks from the Ministry of Education and yellow unions. Both parties recognised the importance of the agreement and the role of ETUCE during the reconciliation process.
The Senior Consultant to the EI General Secretary and former ETUCE European Director, Martin Rømer, was among the key speakers at the event.
EI EQUIP focus group meeting in Belgium
The EI focus group of the EQUIP project, ‘Enhancing quality through innovative policy and practice’, met in Brussels from 15-16 March. The group devised ways to support and promote a consistent, efficient and innovative embedding of the revised Standards and Guidelines for Quality Assurance (ESG) in the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).
This focus group will contribute to the EQUIP study that will examine the impact of the ESG revision on relevant stakeholders, the changes in practices necessary to comply with the ESG’s new elements, and innovative approaches to tackling the challenges that arise from these new elements.
The event was organised by Louise Hoj Larsen for EI.
UEN international seminar in Norway
From 15-16 March, the growing commercialisation and privatisation of education was put under the spotlight at the annualinternational seminar of Utdanningsforbundet(UEN) in Oslo. The UEN’s Executive Board has recently adopted two new strategies to combat the further privatisation/commercialisation of education in Norway, one related to the early childhood education sector and the other to the primary school sector. The union is keen to ensure that its members locate their national campaigns within the context of EI’s Global Response.
Meeting of ETUCE Standing Committee for Equality in Belgium
From 20-21 March, the annual ETUCE Standing Committee for Equality meeting in Brussels focused on “Securing diversity in education”. Rossella Benedetti (UIL-Scuola of Italy) was reelected as chairperson of the Committee and Alexandra Cornea ( Fédération des Syndicats Libres de l'Enseignement-FSLE, Romania) was voted in as the new vice-chair. The 60 participants produced recommendations on how to implement the 2016 ETUCE Conference resolutions on equality. The ETUC Confederal Secretary, Montserrat Mir Roca, the European Institute for Gender Equality’s Stakeholder Relations Officer, Maurizio Mosca, EI Deputy General Secretary Haldis Holst and EI’s madeleine kennedy-macfoy made presentations to the group.
The ETUCE Secretariat organised the event, and ETUCE European Director Susan Flocken, Ekaterina Efimenko, Eduardo Nadal and Märthe Stammer participated in the event for EI/ETUCE.
ETUCE supports member organisation in demand for decent salaries in Moldovan education sector
On 23-24 March, the Education and Science Trade Union Federation from Moldova (ESTU) protested against low salaries in the education sector in front of the Government buildings and the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova.
In support, the ETUCE urged the Moldovan government to make meaningful and constructive proposals and take the necessary steps to ensure both decent working conditions and the recruitment and retention of education personnel.
Education trade unions’ fight for free high quality public education in Italy
On 27 March, the ETUCE highlighted the need for the involvement of education social partners in all stages of the processes around EU structural and investment funds in education. This followed the condemnation of Italian public authorities by the UIL-Scuola and the Federazione Lavoratori della Conoscenza CGIL (FLC-CGIL) – the public authorities intend to give Italian non-state schools wider access to funds made available under the European structural and investment funds.
The ETUCE urged the Italian authorities and the European Commission to promote the active involvement of education social partners with regard to the allocation of EU structural and investment funds in education. This would ensure the effectiveness of the expected outcomes and high quality public education in Italy.
European Social Dialogue: working group meeting on higher education and research in Belgium
On 31 March, the European Education Social Partners – the ETUCE and the European Federation of Education Employers (EFEE) – gathered in Brussels for their annual working group meeting dedicated to higher education and research, within the European Sectoral Social Dialogue in Education (ESSDE).
The meeting focused on gender equality, geographical and employment mobility in higher education and research. The role of the education social partners in addressing gender imbalances in academic careers and in contributing to supportive environments for itinerant academics and researchers in higher education and research was discussed. The outcome of the discussions contributes to the joint work of the European Sectoral Social Partners in Education.
Paola Cammilli took part in the event for EI/ETUCE.
New ETUCE staff member
The ETUCE welcomed a new staff member in March: programme officer Eduardo Nadal will work on occupational health and safety, equality and digitalisation.