Teachers in Greece demonstrated last week against the suspension of 2,122 of their number in technical education - including one of the leaders of the secondary teachers union, Themis Kotsifakis. The OLME leader said in an interview: "Most of the kids at technical colleges are from poorer families. So the consequence of these actions will be that more children will leave school at a young age. All this talk of assessment, merit, and overstaffing was just a cover. Today they have suspended teachers, many of whom are highly qualified, with post-graduate degrees. This is not a reform — it's the demolition of a system and people's rights."

As well as the teachers, health workers, cleaners and social security staff have been suspended as part of a package of measures dictated by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The cuts and other austerity measures have caused widespread demonstrations and protests across the country, often led by young people who face an unemployment rate of 64.2%.

As well as the cuts to teachers' jobs, particularly worrying to the population and the public service union ADEDY are the cuts to social security staff. A spokesperson from ADEDY said: “The social security funds are considered unnecessary organisations for the political leaders and must be lead to their full devaluation, up to their permanent dismantlement. This is the only way anyone can face the fact that the 600 will be mainly from the Social Security Organisations, at a moment that it has 2,500 vacant places registered." This underlines the brutality of the cuts under circumstances where more and more Greek people will be relying on social security under conditions of unemployment and poverty.

Teachers staged a demonstration at a performance of Medea in the ancient theatre at Philippi. New strikes are planned by the teachers at the start of the next academic year in September. When teachers struck in May of this year, the government used fascist era Civil Mobilisation Orders to force them back to work. At the time there was a call for international solidarity from teachers in Greece, which was relayed both by Education International and its European section as well as this website. Teachers and their unions around the world should be on the watch for a repeat of these tactics so that such solidarity can be mobilised in a timely fashion.

Update: The Greek teachers have now launched an online petition, which you can sign here: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/SAVE_PUBLIC_EDUCATION_IN_GREECE_NOT_ONE_TEACHER_OR_STUDENT_LESS_ACT_NOW_LATER_MEANS_NEVER/?email

Pasted below is the text of the petition: 


The Greek Government destroys public Vocational Lyceums and Vocational Schools, leading to teacher dismissals through the process of “sudden death”.

The criminal complicity of the Greek Government and the Troika all along with the consent and the connivance of the Minister of Education, are condemning 2.500 teachers (including the president of OLME- the secondary teachers union, Themis Kotsifakis) in Greece to 8-month suspension with 75% of their basic salary, prior to their dismissal. At the same time, they are preparing the transference of 5.000 secondary education teachers to primary education and 2.000 to administration. All this is coming in addition to the fact that 10.000 non-permanent contract teachers (in primary and secondary education) are already dismissed and will not be hired again in September.

With a new law, the Government destroys three sectors of Greek Vocational Education (Health, Art and Cosmetics). This means that in September 20.000 students will be looking for their Vocational Lyceum and Schools and they will not find them. In this way the Government concedes a large part of the Vocational Secondary Education to the private sector. Further changes, teachers suspensions and dismissals are expected in September.

We demand that no teacher is suspended or dismissed.

We demand that no student is left without the sector of his/hers choice in the public vocational school.

We demand to stop the mobility (suspensions – dismissals) and cut offs policy of the Greek Government and the Troika which destroys the Public Education in Greece