Portugal: teachers in conflict

Portugal: teachers in conflict

Three months ago, teachers’ discontent was expressed across the country, with local strikes culminating in a demonstration of more than 100,000 people on Saturday 11 February in central Lisbon.

Teachers are rejecting a new teacher recruitment and hiring system and defying a minimum service of three hours of instruction per day imposed by the government. He invokes the “right to education”, but does not want to recruit enough to realize that right. Teachers are demanding hiring, better working conditions, an end to the employment of contract workers with a payment of 1,200 euros who are hired away from home, and on top of all that, salary increases.

In 2008, during the debt crisis and austerity plans under the control of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, the government cut the salaries of civil servants, and froze seniority and raises. Then the socialist government of Antonio Costa, installed in 2015, phased out some salary increases and revived seniority. But he refused any compensation, so that the salaries would be delayed by more than ten years.

Teachers are not the only ones making claims. The railway workers have just ended a series of strikes. Caregivers were called to strike on March 6 and 7, for hiring and salary increases. The socialist government boasts an economic growth of 6.7% and an unemployment rate that has fallen below 7%. Big business is thriving, but inflation is officially close to 10%, nearly half of workers earn the minimum wage of €866, and theft of food in supermarkets is so frequent that some locked cans of tuna. As for rents, the influx of tourists makes it too expensive for workers.

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Prime Minister Costa announces a plan to reduce house prices, which would limit tourist accommodation and reduce vacancies. This means attacking the bourgeoisie that speculates on real estate, and Costa is unable to do so, despite his majority in Parliament. For wages and employment as for housing, the struggle of teachers and employees in general is the only thing that can be effective.

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About the Author: Irene Alves

"Bacon ninja. Guru do álcool. Explorador orgulhoso. Ávido entusiasta da cultura pop."

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