Tunisian teachers are to strike this week against low pay and privatisation.

According to a report on the Menasolidarity website:

School teachers in Tunis are planning one day strikes in secondary and primary schools on Wednesday 17th and Thursday 25th April respectively. The strikers’ demands are for a pay increase, as rampant inflation has considerably lowered the value of salaries, against increased working hours, and changes in the working system, including large class sizes and in opposition to privatization of education. Mohamed Hlaiem of the primary school teachers’ section (SGEB) of the UGTT (Tunisian General Workers’ Union) told us that escalating privatization of education is an important issue in Tunisia. The system of universal state education is under serious attack as privatization by large for profit companies extend involvement in fee paying primary, secondary and tertiary education. This is creating a two-tier system with deteriorating conditions for students and teachers in the public sector. For example, class sizes in the private sector for the better off classes are around thirty to thirty five, while public sector classes of 60-70 children are being pushed upwards.

These strikes are the latest in a series of actions by the teachers – as recently as last February the teachers took part in a general strike against the Ennhada government and a month before that they struck for proper funding for education and for a democratic curriculum. Their strikes have been met with repression from the security forces.

Closely involved with the post-revolutionary government is the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which is lending it $1.78billion, and in exchange the government is proposing savage cuts, increases in prices through VAT rises and privatisation. Moreover the Constituent Assembly has produced a draft constitution containing an article which threatens the right to strike – the leader of the UGTT union federation responded by saying that the unions would not let the article pass.

To send messages of solidarity to the teachers, email Mohamed Hlaien at hlaiem.med@hotmail.fr. Or visit the menasolidarity website for more ideas.