Romania: Teachers strike for better working and living conditions
Ten thousand teachers affiliated to the Fédération des syndicats libres de l’enseignement (FSLE), one of EI’s national affiliates, marched through Bucharest on 6 November. They were demanding better wages and working conditions and an end to political interference in education.
During the march, teachers whistled, blew horns and held banners. Some yelled, “Solidarity!”, others, “Without education, any nation will die!”
They also called on the Romanian Government to increase spending on education and teachers. At the beginning of their career, a teacher receives a monthly salary of €160, less than half of Romania’s average salary nationally. That is why many teachers give private lessons to get an additional income.
Possible strike over teacher salaries and status
FSLE is also demanding that school leaders and principals be appointed on merit, and not on political criteria.
FSLE President Simon Hancescu warned that if, even after this protest, the Government does not try to find solutions, all FSLE members will participate in a referendum to see if they want to organise a general strike in education, and when they will strike.
There are two options, Hancescu underlined: “Striking before the elections for the European Parliament or a general strike at the end of the school year in June.”
Appeal to Government massively signed by teachers
At the Government building, an FSLE delegation handed an appeal to the Government signed by 10,000 teachers. These teachers, present in front of the building, are determined, together with their peers, to interrupt their work in schools if necessary to achieve their demands.
FSLE is seeking:
· Allocation to more than six per cent of GDP for education in 2014
· An increase in the budget allocation towards personnel costs in the total expenditure for education
· A change in the national education law, including, amongst other things, the status of teachers
· Early retirement for teachers (at least three years before) reaching retirement age, without reducing their pensions
· Standard teaching hours of 16 hours per week for teachers who have over 25 years of experience in education and a teaching degree
· A bonus for teachers holding a doctorate
· Adoption of a law stipulating that salaries for new teachers will increase
· An increase in non-teaching staff salaries
· Reimbursement for commuting teachers, coming from the state budget through the Ministry of Education
· Application of Law 315/2006 increasing the purchase of books and the number of education programmes on information and communications technology (ICT)
· Professional conversion programmes funded by the State to enable teachers to get a second university degree
EI: State investment in education vital
“EI firmly supports our Romanian colleagues’ demands,” said EI General Secretary Fred van Leeuwen. “Governments in Romania and worldwide have the responsibility to provide free public quality education for all, and must understand that investing in education and well-trained teachers is an investment to be made in communities’ bright future.”