The measures taken by the liberal, social-democratic and conservative governments of Europe for the way out of the crisis, attack the people and simultaneously they attack education, teachers and students.
In Spainthere has been 3 billion euros cut in the funding of education from the beginning of the crisis, which has led to a reduction of 40,000 workers until 2011. The result of these cuts is the increase of the number of students per teacher, the cuts in the schools of children with special needs, less supporting staff in these schools, higher workload etc. At the end of March the government will publicize the new budget, where more cuts will be announced. The wages have been reduced from 5 to 10%. Benefits were abolished and wage reduction was imposed during the summer and sick leave.
In Portugalalready since 2008 the wages of teachers have been frozen.
The Portuguese government with its commitment to cut drastically the public spending proceeded to cut funding for education by 1.5 billion euros. Since 2010 the public education funding in Portugal has been decreased from 5% of the GDP to 3.8% while the country was already below the average of the OECD in 2008 and 2009. Until 2012 approximately 18% of workers in the education sector will be fired.
In Greece with a number of Ministerial Decisions and Circulars, 1056 schools were abolished. The wages of teachers were reduced at least 40% and the number of teachers has been sharply decreased.
Across Europe in total the 3 last years we have 300,000 less teachers, about 20,000 less schools, more children in each class, increase of working hours, abolition of social benefits and rights in countries like the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary etc. There have been cuts in wages and pensions in 20 countries from 2%-60%. Increase of the private education and of the spending of parents to educate their children.
The European Teachers’ Unions (ETUCE) agree that workers should be loaded with a part of the cost of the crisis, they choose as a form of struggle the social dialogue with the governments that impose harsh measures and they (ETUCE) try to find solutions that serve both the capital and the workers. For example, they suggest prolongation of the time for the imposition of the measures.
For the bad situation of teachers in Europe beyond the responsibilities of the governments and the European Union, the Trade Union Bureaucracy which controls big trade unions and in fact supports the policies of the European Union is also responsible. Trade Union organizations like FECCOO, FENPROF, FLC-CGIL, GEW, OLME, DOE, SES-FSU move in the line of reformism and collaboration with the governments.
Today, every trade union organization that struggles for the interests of the working class should highlight the real causes of the crisis. This is a crisis of the capitalists and we do not accept the teachers and the working class to be loaded with its burdens and consequences. The E.U. is a union of financial interests of the capital and multinationals and will continue to represent their interests. For the teachers of Europe there is only one path they must follow. This is the path of the reconstruction of the class-oriented teachers’ and labour movement.
FISE (the World Federation of Teachers’ Union) which is a member of the WFTU, calls upon the trade unions, the teachers of Europe who struggle against the policy of the monopolies to be coordinated with its action and to strengthen the struggle for the rights of all teachers, but also for free education that the working class in all the countries need.
The recent congress of FISE held in CaracasVenezuela, with the participation of 250 trade unionists from 31 trade unions and 24 countries, was a new positive step for the strengthening of the class-oriented trade union movement in the field of education.
Also the effort of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) to organize together with FISE a European conference on education in Europe, will be a continuation of this effort aiming at coordinating and cooperating of all the teachers in Europe against the anti-educational and antilabour policies of the governments and the capital.