Schools out: Hundreds of teachers, non-teaching staff on strike across country

Classes cancelled from “the Minho to the Algarve”

Hundreds of teachers, assistants and even pupils have gathered in front of schools across the country as a threatened three-day ‘sit-in’ involving at least eight unions has set up camp outside the education ministry in Lisbon.

STOP (the Syndicate of All Teachers in Portugal) has organized the school pickets as part of the indefinite strike it called last month, since joined by non-teaching staff.

Said Pedro Xavier of STOP, strikes in the sector now affect “almost all municipalities in the country”.

After two years of disruptions in education due to the pandemic, lockdowns and the policy of mask wearing that has since been seen to have affected learning, particularly in younger age groups, the nation’s children (and their parents) are subjected to even more.

STOP is delighted with the strong adhesion, telling journalists how classes have been brought to a halt in Viana do Castelo, Póvoa do Varzim, Vila do Conde, Amarante, Moura, Portimao and Pombal.

“It is a little difficult to indicate the numbers because we depend on the schools’ communication. However, through a sample, it’s possible to see that in almost every municipality in the country, there are schools that are closed or workers on strike on a part-time basis, in which the activities don’t take place in full. There are even municipalities that have closed down completely – some for several days, and even for a month”, said Pedro Xavier.

In Viana do Castelo, around 120 teachers and technical and educational assistants from the Monte da Ola school grouping in Vila Nova de Anha took part this morning in a picket “for better salaries and for public school (sic)”.

The protest took place Monte da Ola primary and secondary school, which has closed for three days, reports Lusa.

The same action took place in remaining schools within the grouping, “organized by various trade union organizations”.

“Together for education”, “Dignity”, “Valorisation”, “Respect”, “Education: Pillar of the Future” and “Salary increases to compensate for inflation” are some of the slogans written on the placards.

In Torres Vedras (Lisbon district) around 150 teachers formed a cordon this morning in front of the Madeira Torres School Grouping.

Rita Sammer, director of the grouping, told Lusa that strike adherence early morning was about 60%, with many pupils not having any classes and being “left at the door”.

This is ‘all very well’ for the teachers who are intent on making their point, but for parents trying to get to work, it will have been a nightmare.

In Lourinhã, also in the Lisbon district, around 50 teachers from several unions gathered in front of the Dr João Manuel Delgado Secondary School, where adherence to the strike was around 70%, Lusa continues.

Cláudia Teixeira, a geography teacher for 23 years, explained that she was joining the strike because she is against the evaluation system for teachers, the “municipalisation of concourses” (the process by which teachers candidate for a placement) and “lack of career progression ”.

Luís Gonçalves, a philosophy teacher for 25 years, added “non-reposition of service time frozen in the past and the existing bureaucracy”, as his gripes, telling Lusa that these days “teachers do not have time to prepare classes” (because of excessive bureaucracy).

In Setúbal, dozens of members of the educational community of the Dom Manuel Martins Secondary School gathered at the entrance of the establishment in a protest action for “better careers and salaries”.

“It was an organization of the school community. We’re talking about more than 100 teachers, we’re talking about several hundred students,” teacher Ana Guerreiro, a teacher at Dom Manuel Martins Secondary School, told Lusa.

“What is at stake is an entire educational community that feels trapped in a career that we feel has no future when we are people who work for the future,” she explained, noting that the protest action was joined by the entire educational community, including many parents.

FENPROF meantime is behind the three-day camp that has begun outside the education ministry in Lisbon.

With all the unrest so evident in education today, the government has called meetings with the various syndicates for … next week (Wednesday January 18 and Friday January 20).

SIC television news this afternoon says “teachers believe the government and unions will reach an agreement” at that point, after what will have been another week of upset in education.

Source material: Lusa

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