Teachers in Greece took part in a 24 hour strike and mass protests on Thursday. Greek teachers have seen their pay cut by up to 45% and education budgets slashed since the crisis hit in 2010. Moreover thousands have lost their jobs, many schools have closed and the schools that remain have a diminished curriculum and few teaching materials.

The strike was in co-ordination with the entire labour movement. The leader of the public sector confederation GSEE said: 'We are sending a message to the government, the EU (European Union) and the IMF (International Monetary Fund): Greek people cannot take it anymore.' The cuts which are being forced on the Greek people by the centrist government have been dictated by the IMF and the EU, leading to a rise in popularity of the left wing Syriza party which repudiates austerity.

For the young people whom the teachers serve, the situation is particularly dire, with youth unemployment at 50%. As one headteacher in a low income area told Equal Times: ''It’s getting harder and harder to convince the children that their access to education is not only a right but also a key to a better future. They know the situation. And they know their future prospects are bleak.'

Ironically the very teachers whose subject was vocational education have lost their jobs, including the leader of the secondary teachers union OLME, Themis Kotsifakis, who told reporters: 'The ultimate goal of the Troika and of the Greek government is to privatise education. We are very angry. These students . . . will never be able to replace what has been taken from them: knowledge'

In a statement sent to this website Themis says: 

The clock is ticking fast for the upcoming deathblow for teachers and students of the vocational public education.

After 17 months of suspension for about 2,000 teachers of vocational education depriving, thus, thousands of students of the possibility to study in important sectors of their choice in secondary vocational education schools, the troika is now calling for their final redundancy by the end of the year.

Teachers in suspension, who have still not been given positions, are resisting and fighting to prevent any layoff of their colleagues.

The day before Thursday's general strike, the teachers staged a symbolic occupation of the personal offices of the Minister of Education to draw attention to the death of vocational education.

As well as closing schools the general strike brought local transport to a halt, grounded flights and closed public offices. There were protest marches all over the country.

To read more about the continuing struggles of teachers in Greece against cuts and neoliberal reform go here