Greek teachers strike against mass school closures

State secondary school teachers on the Athens march last Tuesday evening
State secondary school teachers on the Athens march last Tuesday evening

GREEK secondary school teachers, in a fighting and determined mood, began a national indefinite strike on Monday against mass school closures and sackings.

A rally was organised in the centre of Athens in front of the University building and a march to the Vouli (Greek parliament).

The National Strike Committee set up by the teachers’ union OLME comprises of the OLME Executive plus representatives of Athens area branches.

Following the march, the Strike Committee called a mass meeting of teachers and trade unionists. Such conferences took place throughout Greece.

Tomorrow, OLME, in collaboration with the occupied State TV and Radio organisation ERT and with the Athens Polytechnic, have organised an open air concert at the Polytechnic.

It will coincide with the 48-hour national strike of the entire public sector called by ADEDY (the public sector trades unions federation).

OLME has issued an international appeal for the strike.

The government and state forces are also preparing for the strike with the aim of starving teachers back to work as was put last week by the Education Minister K. Arvanitopoulos.

But the teachers’ strike is drawing wide support, despite the unwillingness of the GSEE (Greek TUC) to call a general strike in support of the teachers, hospital workers and civil servants who are currently engaged in struggle against mass sackings.

The Administrative Reforms Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the man who publicly takes pride in carrying out the dictates of the EC-IMF-ECB troika, said that following the sackings of tens of thousands of teachers, hospital workers and public sector workers, his next job is to destroy local authorities and he has targeted the 90,000 municipal workers.

In recent weeks, as the strike wave against the government was building up, the Nazi-style gangs of the fascist party Golden Dawn have unleashed a series of attacks on migrants and left-wingers.

The most serious of the attacks took place last Thursday night when, according to eye witnesses, some 50 Golden Dawn fascists attacked with knives and crowbars about 30 Greek Communist Party (KKE) activists in the solid working class Athens suburb of Perama.

Nine Communist Party members including the President of the Metal Workers Union were taken to hospital.

Greek police took over 24 hours to round up suspects recognised by victims of the attack. Police said they questioned 24 persons and arrested just three who are being charged as being part of the fascist attack.

Last Friday, the KKE called a demonstration through Perama streets attended by thousands including left-wing parties.

Trade unions have called another demonstration this evening at the gates of the Perama ship-repairs industrial zone.

The fascists of Golden Dawn have publicly praised ship-owners and ship-repairs bosses who are financiers of their party.

The KKE have rejected calls for joint trade union and left political parties workers’ defence squads to defeat the fascists.

The Greek Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME) issued the following letter ahead of their strike which started on Monday, 16th September.

‘To: International Organisations and Trade Unions

‘Athens, 10 September 2013

‘Greek teachers’ strikes as of September 16th 2013.

‘OLME is launching five days rolling strikes as of September 16th following the decision of the teachers’ general assemblies.

‘At the end of each five days strike the teachers’ general assemblies will take stock of the situation and then decide on the course of the strike action.

‘The situation in public schools is dramatic:

‘There are 16,000 fewer teachers in secondary education meaning 20% reduction since June 2013.

‘102 Vocational Education Schools are closing down

‘2,500 Vocational Education Teachers are being suspended-just a step before dismissals.

‘In 2009 there was 33% reduction of spending on education which is expected to reach 47% in 2016.

‘There is a compulsory transfer of 5,000 teachers to primary education and administration posts.

‘The government has passed a new law on education without a dialogue establishing a harsh, examination-centred system in all forms/grades of upper secondary education forcing students to seek private tuition outside school and leading to school dropouts.

‘The government proceeds to:

‘The privatisation of a part of Vocational Education

‘The introduction of apprenticeship as a form of minor/under-age employment replacing education process.

‘OLME intends to create a Solidarity Fund to support teachers in strike.

‘We would appreciate your support.

‘The Executive Committee of OLME.’