french9.jpg  French Teachers Demonstrating against Cuts Last Year A wave of strikes is sweeping across Europe in response to public service cutbacks Teachers joined other workers in Greece in a general strike last Thursday to protest against measures which will have a dire effect on public services (see previous post).  Meanwhile there was a general strike in France yesterday against the government's raising of the age for pension benefits. According to union leaders over one million people demonstrated on Thursday and teachers were one of the main groups represented. France has traditionally had a good pension system and French teachers are not prepared to see it compromised because of an economic crisis which has nothing to do with the public services. The largest union in Italy - the CGIL is also planning a general strike against the Italian government's cuts in June with a strike by public service workers on June 12th whose pay is to be frozen for three years. CGIL which represents many primary and scondary teachers as well as other workers issued a statement last year outlining the attacks which the Berlusconi government is making on Italian schools - including privatisation and the slashing of teachers' jobs which can be read at this link: http://etuce.homestead.com/CGIL_call_EN.pdf (see also previous posts) In Spain where public sector workers are facing a 5% pay cut there is a proposal from the largest unions for a public service strike on June 2nd. Strikes are also sweeping eastern Europe ( see previous posts) in response to attempts by neo-liberal governments to pacify the markets. To a greater or lesser extent all the governments in Europe are still trusting in the markets to bail them out and allowing them to determine the future shape of their public services - despite the fact that it is this very subservience to the markets which has caused the crisis in the first place. Teachers across Europe are in the forefront of the struggle to show that the answer to the crisis is not to make the poor and the vulnerable pay for a crisis not of their making but to start to look at ways of making those who are responsible - the hedge funds, the investment banks and the superrich who rely on them for their wealth - pay instead. Teahcersolidarity would very much like to see teachers' unions across Europe co-ordinating their struggles against this common threat to schools and to children.