Greece: government orders civil mobilization against striking teachers

Posted on 13 Μαΐου 2013


Greece: government orders civil mobilization against striking teachers



The Greek government has issued orders for teachers to halt a planned strike over working conditions this week.

This weekend the Greek government ordered striking teachers back to work. The union of secondary school teachers(OLME) had voted on strike action to take place starting this week. In an attempt to stifle the strike before it could begin the government issued civil mobilisation orders. Under such an order a worker must return to work or face arrest.

The decision to take strike action was prompted by new measures against teacher’s working conditions. Recently the government pushed further austerity measures through parliament which included making teachers work an extra two hours each week in the next academic year. For a teacher two hours extra in class can easily mean another two hours extra preparation work they have to do outside of school hours. So the increased hours, coming at a time of decreasing pay, are not insubstantial.

The government’s reasoning is that by forcing current teachers to work more they will save money by employing fewer teachers. This reason disregards the still rising 27% unemployment rate(64% for young people) and the effect that burdening teachers with extra work will have on the quality of education. This will further damage the education system in Greece which has been repeatedly hit by austerity measures over the last three years.

The strike action is planned to start this week and continue next week but has not yet begun. Despite the action not yet being under way the conservative government has already ordered civil mobilisation of the teachers. Mobilisation orders will be issued on Monday to over 80,000 teachers who face arrest should they not return to work. Civil mobilisation is a practice which was meant to be used for natural disasters and emergencies but is quickly becoming this government’s default method of dealing with strikes. So far this year two mobilisation orders have been issued against dock and public transport workers, both orders being enforced by the deployment of riot police.

The government justified it’s decision by labelling the teachers of the nation’s children a ‘threat to society‘ with the strike planned to begin on the first day of the Panhellenic exams. These exams are taken by Greek students to determine their ability to enter university and are taken very seriously. This in turn leads to extraordinary pressure being put on students as they are told their whole life depends on the results.

With the strike yet to begin it’s outcome is unknown. Previously the threat of mass arrest has forced other striking sectors to back down and no doubt the government and the media will roll out anguished and distressed parents and students in order to pressure the teachers to back down. On the other hand the teaching sector is far larger than the others which have been previously issued orders. The reaction of the students will also be key. OLME have called for a demonstration on Monday afternoon and are asking other unions to declare a general strike later on in the week.

The issuing of the mobilisation orders pre-emptively, the labelling of striking workers as a ‘threat to society’ and the looming possibility of riot police being deployed to schools all point to an increasing authoritarian trend from the Greek state.

posted  by selana
Posted in: Uncategorized