Marcha de protesto de professores
João Costa has not been the teachers' favourite up till now. Image: MANUEL FERNANDO ARAUJO/LUSA

Minister of Education changes tune over issue of teachers’ frozen pay 

João Costa is now a fervent supporter of PS leadership candidate Pedro Nuno Santos

Minister of Education for another 48-hours tops, João Costa has today “admitted the possibility of teachers recovering their frozen service time” – a demand he has always recognised as “fair” and which now appears in the list of intentions of PS leadership candidate, Pedro Nuno Santos.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the presentation of results of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Mr Costa admitted that the teachers’ unwavering demand (that this outgoing government has consistently refused) could be met if Pedro Nuno Santos wins the next general election.

For this to happen, first Pedro Nuno Santos would have to be officially chosen by the rank and file of his party, to replace António Costa as secretary-general of the PS.

Both Mr Costas are famous for having said that teachers’ frozen pay cannot be recovered, as there is not the money for this expense in the kitty.

Pedro Nuno Santos thinks otherwise.

PSD leader Luís Montenegro knows otherwise. He has already said he will make sure teachers’ ‘stolen pay’ is returned, in phases, over five years (as is happening in the autonomous regions of Portugal).

As the country’s parents and pupils know only too well, teachers have been demanding that six years, six months and 23 days of frozen service be returned to them for a long time. The last academic year particularly saw fierce protests, and lots of unflattering placards (see image above), parodying both the prime minister and João Costa.

Today, the minister was all ‘forgiveness’, sweetness and light. He referred to the candidacy of Pedro Nuno Santos as pointing “to the continuity of a path to the return of income” that began in 2015 and which translates into “the recovery of the length of service of the entire public administration“, in which teachers are not left out.

Refusing to accept any responsibility for the agony of the last year, João Costa says he will “obviously be happy” if it is “possible to go further as Pedro Nuno Santos proposes”.

FENPROF meantime – the national federation of teachers – has suggested this may be little more than blatant electioneering: something to encourage PS militants to vote for Pedro Nuno Santos as their leader, and for the electorate in general to vote Socialist in March. 

“”Elections work miracles, or at least appear to work miracles”, commented FENPROF secretary-general Mário Nogueira, showing that a lot more will be needed than a few silken words. ND 

Source material: LUSA/ Rádio Renascença