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A week of protests in Athens

22 July 2013 / 17:07:01  GRReporter
1995 reads

Anastasia Balezdrova

The first cuts of civil servants in Greece are already a fact. As of today, 2,000 technical school teachers are in the "availability mode" as their jobs have been eliminated. This measure provided for in the law, which the government voted last week, breaks the taboo for zero layoffs in the public sector which has lasted for almost a century.
About 400 teachers gathered outside the office of the federation of secondary school teachers in protest. They held up their main slogan, reading "No to the layoffs of teachers and lecturers and to the closure of schools - Rejection of the government policy - the EU and the IMF" and their procession set off to the Ministry of Finance.
"Today, 22 July 2013, is the worst day for education. Today, the government and the Troika are sending 2,500 teachers to the "availability mode" and dismissals. They are beginning the destruction of the technical education and public schools," states Themis Kotsifakis, president of the union.

He adds that the teachers will oppose the government's decision. "We will fight it both in the summer and in September," he said.

The decision of the Minister of Education removes ten subjects. The majority of the cut jobs are in the secondary medical schools - 388, child education schools - 335 and in those for cosmetic services - 211.

A total of 50 subjects have been cancelled and the teachers who will be "available" include:

296 teachers in secondary education, 218 out of 844 teachers with college technical education and 1,958 out of 9,420 teachers with higher education.

The teachers protesting outside the Ministry shouted slogans such as, "The future belongs to the working people, only Samaras is redundant" and "Public schools for all children, the layoffs will remain only on paper". Many of the teachers accused Minister of Education Konstantinos Arvanitepoulous of "selling public schools to favour private ones". There were also sincere confessions that they are the only working persons in their families which, from now on, will have no income.

According to previous assurances by the Ministry of Education, more than half of the teachers whose jobs have been cut will be allocated to different departments of the Ministry of Health since the majority of the removed subjects are related to the specific field.

However, the federation has urged all trade unions in the system of education to join the protest which it will organize on Wednesday at 7:00 pm. It is expected that the teachers and lecturers will resort to major strike actions in September, at the beginning of the new school year. The purpose of the trade unionists is for "none of the teachers to be absent from school on 1 September". They have urged the local trade unions across the country to continue to hold protests and establish "centres of struggle" in each region.

It is expected that the week will be hot because of the protests and strikes that various professional groups will hold. The employees of commercial sites will protest on Tuesday at 7:00 pm against the bill which will turn Sundays into working days and which will be submitted to the parliament for consideration.

The employees’ trade unions oppose the government's decision and insist on retaining Sunday as a non-working day for commercial sites. Furthermore, they insist on the introduction of working hours which will not exceed 48 hours per week, three free afternoons and strictly fixed working hours.

The employees and doctors in public hospitals will hold a 24-hour strike on Wednesday. They will hold outside the Ministry of Health a protest against the expected layoffs and the "closure of hospitals, clinics and wards" as they claim.

Earlier today, competent Minister Adonis Georgiadis urged them not to hold the strike as there is no reason for it to take place.

"It will only cause problems for the people," he said in a television interview, assuring the doctors and staff that there will be no layoffs of hospital staff and that closing of hospitals has not been planned.

Just a few days ago, Adonis Georgiadis was attacked by protesting employees of Attikon Hospital and outside persons who, in his words, hit him on the head. In today's interview, he stated that he would revisit the hospital and that he was to meet with the association of Attikon employees in order "to elliminate all misunderstandings between us".

Tags: SocietyProtestsCutsPublic sectorTeachersSecondary schoolsDoctorsEmployees of commercial sites
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