Teachers in Portugal went on strike yesterday against government plans to increase their working week from 35 to 40 hours, against punitive evaluations and changes to rules which will mean teachers could be forced to teach a great distance away from their homes or resign their posts. Teachers fear that many thousands of teachers will be made redundant because of all these measures.

The strike meant that many students were unable to take their final examinations. Despite this however there was much support for the teachers from students. One said that the rules being imposed on teachers had undermined the students throughout the year. In some schools, students chanted and waved placards in solidarity with their teachers.

The strike followed a mass anti-austerity demonstration at the weekend in which thousands of teachers participated. Portugal is one of the countries in the European Union which has been bailed out on condition of harsh austerity measures, which the centre right government is implementing. As a result, unemployment has reached 18% and there have been large tax increases as well as savage cuts to public services.

Unions are planning an all out general strike for June 27th against the cuts.