Where are you João Costa? This is the question posed by Portugal's federation of parents' associations

Government asks for legal opinion on current teachers’ strike

Parents associations just say “negotiate now!”

Portugal’s ministry of education “has revealed that it has asked the attorney general’s office (PGR) for a legal opinion on the legitimacy of the way in which the ongoing strikes by teachers in schools are being carried out”, reports Lusa this morning as yet another miserable day begins for thousands of parents trying to get to work but discovering their children have no school.

“The ministry of education has requested a legal opinion from the attorney general’s office about the legality of the way in which the current strikes by teachers, called by the STOP and SIPE teachers’ unions, are being carried out,” the ministry has told Lusa.

An official source said it has also requested the opinion of the state centre of legal expertise (JURISAPP).

None of this however is cutting any ice with increasingly angry and frustrated parents.

All this ‘consultation of legal opinion’ is seen as time-wasting – and indication that the government is not taking this crisis seriously enough.

In the Algarve, Nuno Sousa representing the Algarve branch of the national federation of parents’ associations, has said: “We demand first that the Minister of Education takes action, and negotiates with teachers, because what teachers are asking for is nothing more than a right to help them…”

As our story last night explained, the minister (João Costa) isn’t even in Portugal. He is in Angola – another ‘slap in the face’ to parents, and indeed pupils, who feel ‘nothing is being done’, and nothing will done before meetings scheduled for next Wednesday and Friday.

Worse, João Costa has said that when the government finally deigns to meet syndicates it will present proposals that go further than what teachers are asking for”.

Why then is the agony being allowed to persist? Who is gaining from allowing the strikes to continue; allowing the camp outside the education ministry to continue?

This is at the nub of today’s fury.

Correio da Manhã’s editorial director general Carlos Rodrigues has written today that “what is happening in education is becoming difficult to understand.

“It is still too soon to evaluate the long-term effects of the pandemic on education. An entire generation of pupils spent almost two years  without normal classes. Only when they reach adulthood and the labour market will the consequences for their lives and professions become clear”. Yet, just as “one imagined that teaching would return to some normality, the healthy routine of education is broken once again. What is happening in the sector has started to become incomprehensible for the everyday Portuguese…

CM’s “Figure of the Day” for all the wrong reasons in João Costa, who the paper criticises for asking legal opinion on the strike. Instead of going towards helping the situation, it sees the government’s latest move as one that “throws more fuel on the fire”.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com