Schools all over Portugal are being affected by a teacher strike which was called last Friday for an “indefinite amount of time”.
The strike, which was called by teachers’ union Sindicato de Todos os Professores (STOP), has forced some schools to close, while others have seen classes cancelled due to the ongoing protests.
Teachers have been gathering outside schools instead of staying home in an attempt to show their commitment to the cause.
The union, which represents around 1,300 teachers, said in a statement that the “unprecedented” protest was the result of a poll carried out on the ArLindo blog, in which 1,720 people supported the indefinite strike.
STOP cites “fundamental questions from the past that have not been resolved” to justify the strike.
Among them are the teacher’s pleas for all of their time of service to be counted and for teachers to be able to retire without penalty after 36 years of service.
The strike is also a response to the ministry of education’s proposals for revising the recruitment and mobility scheme for teaching staff, which is being negotiated by the ministry and the sector’s unions.
The protest has received support from Portugal’s President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who said on Monday that teachers complain, “often rightly, about their conditions” as he visited a school in Ourém where a protest was taking place.
“(Teachers) are fundamental, and they complain and often complain rightly about their conditions. And, naturally, this is a concern that I, as a teacher, have always followed,” said Marcelo.
“Their concern, in many cases, is very just,” he said, noting that “teachers are the most important thing” that the country has “together with health staff, within the civil service, because everything starts in health and then continues in education.”
The president said the two areas “are closely connected and are fundamental to guarantee justice, equality and the progress of the country.”
Apart from the protests outside of schools, teachers are also expected to gather for a demonstration this Saturday (December 17) at the Marquês do Pombal roundabout in Lisbon.