Teachers on Strike
No end in sight, for pupils who want to return to classes or parents who want to return to 'normality'. Image: António Cotrim/ Lusa

School strike misery persists: syndicates not impressed by government proposals

“Too little” … “struggle continues”

All hope that the government really had come up with measures to satisfy teachers’ long-held desires for a profession that values them appears to have evaporated.

Education minister João Costa opened his ‘bag of concessions’ yesterday to a complete lack of enthusiasm.

Yes, the government is prepared to move in terms of certain issues (it is prepared to hire more teachers, for example, open more vacancies for access to further career advancement, ensure no teacher has to travel more than 50km for a posting) but in the central issue of recognising years of service frozen during the Troika years (of grim austerity) the response remains: “no can do…”

“We will not take a step that we know, two years from now, will not be sustainable. We cannot take a step further, and what we want is to guarantee that careers are never frozen again”, has been João Costa’s refrain, echoing the mantra of the finance ministry.

There is thus so much uncovered ground in this struggle that has been rumbling through the profession for decades that the prospect of today’s strikes and industrial action coming to an end anytime soon seems dim.

President Marcelo’s concerns that the strikes could spill over to Carnival are being echoed today in the national press.

Tomorrow (Friday) sees a new round of talks due, this time with FENPROF, the national federation of teaching syndicates. Meantime, children everywhere have found their school gates closed once again, as education is kept on the backstep, in favour of demands for ‘respect’ and ‘dignity in the profession’.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com