Teacher union leaders in Greece and Germany met last week to discuss co-operation and solidarity This is a particularly significant meeting - given the role of the German government in imposing the will of the Troika - the European Union, the European Central Bank and the IMF - on the Greek people and the consequent anger with Germany in the country. It is also significant that just as in Greece teachers are fighting cuts through demonstrations and strikes the same is happening this week in Germany (see previous post.) Below is pasted a press release from the meeting which took place in Athens: GEW  -  OLME Press Release On Thursday 7 February 2013 a meeting was held between OLME (Greek Federation of secondary education state school teachers) and GEW (Union for Education and Science) in Athens. Mr. Ulrich Thöne, president of GEW, and Mr. Manfred Brinkmann, GEW coordinator for international relations, had the chance to meet with members of the E. B of OLME and KEMETE.  Within the framework of this meeting a press conference was organized in OLME premises on facing common problems in the field of education by both countries and by Europe as a whole. The discussion focused on the common problems that preoccupy teachers in both countries as well as employees across Europe. Nikos Papachristos, president of OLME, in his opening speech stressed the importance of GEW’s contribution in presenting an objective picture of the contemporary Greek reality and Greek education problems in Europe. He thanked the GEW president on behalf of OLME for his support and he wished that both trade unions continue their close cooperation. Mr. Papachristos referred to the serious problems pupils face in schools, such as malnutrition, and the dropout rate during compulsory education. Teachers in Greece face serious problems. Particularly, the newly appointed teachers are often compelled to move out in the place they are appointed under adverse circumstances receiving a salary of 600 Euros. He reported, also, that in the middle of the school year there are still 1.600 vacant teaching posts and for the first time pupils run the risk of exclusion from the final examinations due to the inability of the state to provide teaching staff and fill the vacant posts. Finally, he pointed out, that unemployment is a huge problem leading to forced migration of qualified and well trained scientists which would contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of the country. Mr. Ulrich Thöne, president of GEW, reported that he accepted with great pleasure the invitation of OLME. He is convinced that employees in the field of education and teachers in particular can solve their problems through dialogue and cooperation. He maintained that we are fully aware of the problems plaguing European countries lately, stressing that if we aim at saving Europe, then we should all cooperate leaving aside all stereotypes and myths that keep us divided. The particular intensity of the problems Greece and other countries in Europe are facing, as he reported, unless they are resolved, they will be spread with the same intensity across Europe. The workers of Europe need a new vision of Europe which will not be based on the current crisis management and on recession, but on growth. As Mr. Thöne stressed that we need a contemporary Marshal Plan, and employees’ trade unions in Europe have worked systematically in this direction. This very moment, what is required to boost the economy is investment and the creation of new jobs so that economy will flourish, unemployment will be restricted and further funds will come up for the maintenance and reinforcement of both welfare state and  education. He explained, the resources required for the implementation of such a plan can be obtained either by capital gains taxation (3%) or by issuing bonds for this purpose. It is certain that there are alternatives and ways out as opposed to the “only way out” imposed on European people by the current policy advocates, and employees in European countries should work systematically in this direction. Particularly, in the forthcoming 2014 European elections, there is a possibility to seek another Europe, a Europe of development, growth and democracy that respects workers rights, provides quality working conditions for employees and ensures social benefits and the wellbeing for all citizens. In relation to the Greek education problems, he pointed out that Germany has faced similar problems, though different in intensity, stemming from the same policy of cuts in public education. He has critizised the low spending on Education in Greece and has mentioned that even in Germany spending on education is insufficient and 1 % below OECD average. This is the source of problems such as the large percentage of illiteracy as 7,5 million citizens, aged 14-64, are functionally illiterate and as a result they are socially excluded. He added that 1,5 million young people, aged 22-30, lack the necessary education for their professional inclusion whereas at the same time vacancies are filled by scientists and other professionals from other countries. In commenting on malnutrition in Greek schools he stressed that the state is responsible for ensuring children’s basic nutritional needs, being that the right of each child, so that their education is not hindered by poverty. Manfred Brinkmann, GEW coordinator for international relations, stressed that throughout Europe there is a common anxiety on education along with the need to cooperate in addressing the problems. He maintained that the positive element brought by crisis was the awareness of the need for unity and cooperation at a European Level. At the end of the meeting both sides expressed their mutual intention to continue their beneficial cooperation. ATHENS 11-2-2012 

GEW  -  OLME

Press Release

On Thursday 7 February 2013 a meeting was held between OLME (Greek Federation of secondary education state school teachers) and GEW (Union for Education and Science) in Athens. Mr. Ulrich Thöne, president of GEW, and Mr. Manfred Brinkmann, GEW coordinator for international relations, had the chance to meet with members of the E. B of OLME and KEMETE. 

Within the framework of this meeting a press conference was organized in OLME premises on facing common problems in the field of education by both countries and by Europe as a whole. The discussion focused on the common problems that preoccupy teachers in both countries as well as employees across Europe.

Nikos Papachristos, president of OLME, in his opening speech stressed the importance of GEW’s contribution in presenting an objective picture of the contemporary Greek reality and Greek education problems in Europe. He thanked the GEW president on behalf of OLME for his support and he wished that both trade unions continue their close cooperation.

Mr. Papachristos referred to the serious problems pupils face in schools, such as malnutrition, and the dropout rate during compulsory education. Teachers in Greece face serious problems. Particularly, the newly appointed teachers are often compelled to move out in the place they are appointed under adverse circumstances receiving a salary of 600 Euros.

He reported, also, that in the middle of the school year there are still 1.600 vacant teaching posts and for the first time pupils run the risk of exclusion from the final examinations due to the inability of the state to provide teaching staff and fill the vacant posts.

Finally, he pointed out, that unemployment is a huge problem leading to forced migration of qualified and well trained scientists which would contribute to the economic growth and prosperity of the country.

Mr. Ulrich Thöne, president of GEW, reported that he accepted with great pleasure the invitation of OLME. He is convinced that employees in the field of education and teachers in particular can solve their problems through dialogue and cooperation.

He maintained that we are fully aware of the problems plaguing European countries lately, stressing that if we aim at saving Europe, then we should all cooperate leaving aside all stereotypes and myths that keep us divided.

The particular intensity of the problems Greece and other countries in Europe are facing, as he reported, unless they are resolved, they will be spread with the same intensity across Europe. The workers of Europe need a new vision of Europe which will not be based on the current crisis management and on recession, but on growth.

As Mr. Thöne stressed that we need a contemporary Marshal Plan, and employees’ trade unions in Europe have worked systematically in this direction. This very moment, what is required to boost the economy is investment and the creation of new jobs so that economy will flourish, unemployment will be restricted and further funds will come up for the maintenance and reinforcement of both welfare state and  education.

He explained, the resources required for the implementation of such a plan can be obtained either by capital gains taxation (3%) or by issuing bonds for this purpose.

It is certain that there are alternatives and ways out as opposed to the “only way out” imposed on European people by the current policy advocates, and employees in European countries should work systematically in this direction.

Particularly, in the forthcoming 2014 European elections, there is a possibility to seek another Europe, a Europe of development, growth and democracy that respects workers rights, provides quality working conditions for employees and ensures social benefits and the wellbeing for all citizens.

In relation to the Greek education problems, he pointed out that Germany has faced similar problems, though different in intensity, stemming from the same policy of cuts in public education.

He has critizised the low spending on Education in Greece and has mentioned that even in Germany spending on education is insufficient and 1 % below OECD average. This is the source of problems such as the large percentage of illiteracy as 7,5 million citizens, aged 14-64, are functionally illiterate and as a result they are socially excluded. He added that 1,5 million young people, aged 22-30, lack the necessary education for their professional inclusion whereas at the same time vacancies are filled by scientists and other professionals from other countries.

In commenting on malnutrition in Greek schools he stressed that the state is responsible for ensuring children’s basic nutritional needs, being that the right of each child, so that their education is not hindered by poverty.

Manfred Brinkmann, GEW coordinator for international relations, stressed that throughout Europe there is a common anxiety on education along with the need to cooperate in addressing the problems. He maintained that the positive element brought by crisis was the awareness of the need for unity and cooperation at a European Level.

At the end of the meeting both sides expressed their mutual intention to continue their beneficial cooperation.

ATHENS 11-2-2012