The Greek secondary teachers union OLME is on strike again today against cuts, which have seen 2500 teachers suspended from their jobs. Some have been reassigned to new duties, often inappropriate for their training and experience, many will lose their jobs altogether. 

One of the suspended teachers is the President of OLME, Themis Kotsifakis. In a moving letter to the Minister of Education he refuses to be transferred as long as any of his colleagues are threatened with redundancy and declares: "I would like you to know that if you are to dismiss at least one teacher, this will be the President of OLME and you will be held responsible for this action and raise an outcry both in Greece and in Europe."

As Themis points out in his letter, these cuts not only affect teachers but students as well, whose courses have been cancelled or curtailed. He says:

The families and the life of 2,500 teachers and 20,000 students have changed dramatically. All of us (teachers and students) have been experiencing the tragic consequences of your decision for 6 months. Degrees, dreams, and an entire life of efforts have been destroyed. Qualified teachers with a vision abandoned their successful careers in the public and/or private sector because they were longing to work in the public school. They were those teachers that love the daily school routine, they love working with young children, the boys and girls of the poorest social strata, they love the daily classroom routine, the school labs, the schoolyard, the educational visits or the health education programmes, the artistic activities and lots of other public schools activities

As regular readers of this site will know, this year's suspensions are only the latest round of cuts, which have seen teachers salaries cut by 25%, pensions attacked, thousands of teaching jobs lost, schools closed and class sizes increased. The cuts have been imposed by a government which does the bidding of the international bankers and bond traders, through their proxies in the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Union - the so-called troika. The cuts have been continually opposed by strike action, demonstrations, occupations and solidarity activities from teachers, students and communities.

The Greek teachers are appealing for support from Education International, global trade unions and other activists. We are pasting below their appeal. Please give it your urgent attention: 




2, Kornarou & Ermou Str.

Athens (10563)

Tel: 0030 210 3230073-3221255

Fax: 0030 210 3311338-3227382



Athens, 29/01/2014

To EDUCATION INTERNATIONAL, ETUCE and Teacher Trade Unions across the world


Dear colleagues,

As you have already been informed on 23 July 2013 the Greek government, within the framework of the memorandum with the troika (EU-ECB-IMF) placed 2,424 secondary teachers from 50 specialties in 8 month suspension abolishing at the same time 3 important sectors (healthcare, applied arts and aesthetics-hairstyling). We should point out that thousands of students are deprived of the specialties they had chosen to study. Also, thousands of 3rd grade Lyceum students are not being taught due to their teachers’ suspension.

A number of teachers whose specialties were abolished, they have been transformed to administrative employees and others were prompted violently in premature retirement.

Today 1,845 teachers are still suspended. After 7 months of fights and mobilizations there have been vacancy announcements for only 1,308 out of them. Most of them (925) will be placed in new posts in informal education, some of them (150) will be appointed in municipal nursery schools and others (233) will be transferred to teaching posts on the basis of a second Bachelor’s degree they already possess. Those transfers are under the threat of dismissals, without the teachers’ real consent as they wish to go back to the schools they had taught.

More than 500 secondary teachers run the risk of being dismissed since their 8 month suspension expires on 22 March 2014. This means that all those not transferred to new posts will be dismissed. The government plans to dismiss those teachers implementing its commitment to troika demanding 11,400 dismissals in 2014.

We keep up our fight so that no teacher is dismissed and all abolished sectors and specialties in the secondary Vocational education are reopened.

Once more, we are asking for your support in our fights.

You are kindly requested to send similar letters to the Prime Minister, and the Ministers of Education and Administrative Reform in Greece as well as to the EU relevant authorities.

Mr. Antonis Samaras: Prime Minister of the Hellenic Republic,

Mr Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos: Minister of Education and Religious Affairs,

Mr Kyriakos Mitsotakis: Minister of Administrative Reform and E-governance,



For the E.B of OLME

The president Secretary General


Themis Kotsifakis Stamatis Nikolaou