Turkish teachers marked their Teachers Day on Monday with protests and strikes all round the country. The problems they face are manifold. Their pay is much lower than their colleagues in most countries in Europe - on average $15 - 18,000 a year. Moreover out of 300,000 unemployed teachers, only 15,000 are being hired this year - a situation causing huge pain around the country inluding the suicide of many teachers as we have reported on this site before.

Not only are teachers facing poverty and unemployment, they are also suffering from a lack of democracy, including continual attacks on their rights to organise. Their union Egitim Sen is periodically illegalised and their leaders are frequently arrested. Moreover at least 76,000 principals and other teachers have been sacked by the government, so that they can be replaced by political allies of the ruling party.

According to a survey by Egitim Sen, 81% of teachers said that they would not choose again to be teachers in Turkey and 38% felt that they were unable to provide for their families.

Despite all of these problems however, Turkish teachers and Egitim Sen have been in the forefront of the fight for social justice in the country, marching to support democracy against the dictatorial policies of Erdogan, for the rights ot Kurdish children to be educated in their own language and against the privatisation and neoliberal 'reform' of schools. Their protests have often led to violent attacks by the police and Monday's were no different with police using tear gas to attack protesters who had gathered in front of the governor's residence in the Black Sea town of Sinop.

Many protests were marked nonetheless by expressions of cultural identity - the playing of traditional instruments and dancing. And in one area teachers went to school in black rubber shoes in protest at an insulting gesture of the governor of their province. He sent a cheap pair of rubber shoes to the father of one of the 18 miners killed in a disaster, after a photograph of the mourning father at his son's funeral showed him wearing a pair of shoes with holes in them.

We send soildarity to both Egitim Sen and all the teachers of Turkey as they continue to fight for social justice in the week of their Teachers Day.