S.T.O.P kicks off new school year of discontent
Portugal’s teachers have vowed to continue their efforts to be treated ‘fairly’ – and thus after weeks of school holidays, they are preparing strike actions for the months ahead.
S.T.O.P – the most militant of all the unions – has been the first to announce dates.
S.T.O.P will be holding a week of strikes between September 18-22. Technically, the country’s schools will be returning from three months of holidays anytime between September 12 – 15.
But even those dates are overshadowed by ‘industrial action’. Explains Lusa, “from September 12, there will be strikes beginning on overtime, extra hours and all activities integrated into the non-teaching component” of school establishments.
As SIC television news so clearly showed earlier this week, the iniquity at play in teachers’ treatment is so glaring, it will be fascinating to see how the year plays out: teachers have the government between a rock and a hard place; the president has already pushed the executive to have a door ‘open’ to acceding to teachers’ demands, in the same way that the regional government of Madeira has (by slowly phasing in the years lost because politicians ‘froze’ advancements, for their own political reasons).
S.T.O.P’s leader André Pestana cited the solution adopted by Madeira today, saying the refusal of Portugal’s central government to follow this example “cannot continue. If we do nothing, the next school year will continue with profound injustices in the State school system”.
There are various other ‘injustices’ at play, he told journalists – citing regimes that create confusion, tiredness and expense; teaching assistants on achingly low salaries, but overworked – essentially S.T.O.P is back pointing out all the ills of a system this government has been loathe to change.
At the end of the week of strike, there is to be another national rally of teachers in Lisbon.
The less militant but equally determined ‘platform of teaching syndicates’, led by FENPROF, has also scheduled a strike for October 6 – the day after the October 5 Bank Holiday, and coincidentally also World Teachers’ Day.