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Rectors close universities one after another in protest against the cuts

27 September 2013 / 12:09:14  GRReporter
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Eight universities in Greece have stopped functioning in protest against the future cuts of 1,349 employees in their administrations. Their rectors are arguing that the measure will deprive them of necessary staff and, therefore, they have stopped all activities, including supplementary examinations, enrolment of new students and graduation. Naturally, this has affected the European student exchange programme Erasmus.

According to a report in the Greek daily Kathimerini, several European countries that send students to Greece have already referred the matter to the foundation for government scholarships. Accordingly, the Greek students studying at universities in other European countries are protesting because they have not received the scholarships to which they are entitled under the programme. The money, however, had been transferred to the accounts of Greek universities as early as July 10.

The rectors of the eight closed universities state that they would use every legal opportunity to stand up against the cuts of the 1,349 employees. According to them, it is totally impossible for the universities to function without them.

At the same time, data show that the Greek universities had recruited over 4,232 administrative employees within the space of only a few years before the outbreak of the economic crisis. By comparison, the total number of employees in university administrations is 6,171. In the majority of cases, the objectivity of the process is questionable since most of the employees had been appointed without any criteria and, most probably, due to their belonging to a particular party or because of personal acquaintances. They had been appointed on the basis of temporary contracts at first and, since 2004, they have acquired the status of civil servants.

At present, the universities in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Crete, Ioannina and the Polytechnic School in Athens are closed by the decisions of their leaderships. "The future cuts are in direct contradiction with Article 16 of the Constitution which regulates the self-governance of universities," states Vice-Rector of the Polytechnic School in Athens Tonia Moropoulou. Rector Simos Simopoulous is urging the Ministry of Education to withdraw its order and reinstate the employees to their workplaces. His request, however, is impossible since, by virtue of the Memorandum signed with Greece’s lenders, 12,500 civil servants should be cut by the end of the year.

The crisis in education continues but without the participation of secondary school teachers who have discontinued their strike. Despite the loud calls of trade unionists for repeated five-day strikes and the assurances of increased participation, the teachers returned to the classrooms after the first few days. At the last meeting of their trade union organization, the proposal for the continuation of the strikes failed after representatives of 30 local organizations abstained and 17 voted for their discontinuing. 12 organizations supported the proposal for the announcement of a new five-day strike and 5 others voted for a 48-hour strike.

At present, 100 schools across Greece are under "occupation" by their students. It is expected that a presidential decree will stipulate that the school year for all students at schools undergoing occupation for more than three days will be extended.

Tags: SocietyUniversitiesCutsCivil servantsTeachersStrikes
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