Location Poland Poland

Poland: Teachers’ massive strike against the destruction of lower secondary education

Last March 31 Poland experienced one of the most massive teachers strike since 1989.

Answering their union’s call, teachers stopped work by the tens of thousands. Joined by the parents, they demand the withdrawal of the reform that, among others, aims at destroying lower secondary education.

International workers committee reports on this subject:

Last March 31, across Poland, primary and secondary school teachers struck against the reform of the education system that the government is to apply as of next school year.This reform simply destroys lower secondary education, which means the destruction of tens of thousands teachers’ jobs. The 250,000-strong ZNP (Polish Teachers Union) called the strike. For legal reasons, the strikers’ demands were to be strictly “social and professional”: a written guarantee that no job would be lost between now and 2022, wages and gains to be maintained and a 10% wage raise. But what everyone knows is that behind the teachers’ mobilisation, the solidarity of parents and youth and the determination to win the demands, the whole society that is simmering.

This has been the second time only since 1989 that a national teachers’ union has called a national day of strike. Despite pressures and attempts at intimidation against the staff by some regional education authorities, half the total of schools from kindergartens up to final years went on strike. During the whole day, most schools – striking or not – sported Polish flags, union flags and banners with demands written on them, or even black flags in sign of solidarity.

Numerous parents, numerous associations and organisations supported the strike against the reform with the common slogan: “No to chaos in schools!” On this March 31, during the press conference, the national office bearer of the union declared, “We thank all those who today are on strike and all those who are supporting us. The Teachers and the support and administrative staff have shown great civic courage and their professional solidarity”.

On the same day, the ministry let out that no job was threatened and that the school map was to be published by the end of May, and that wage increases were planned, for up to 10%…. for 2018. At the initiative of ZNP union, a committee made up of fifteen representatives of parent associations, unions and political organisations circulated a petition demanding “the holding of a national citizen initiative referendum” with a single question: “For or against the reform of the education system”. By the end of March, the needed 500,000 signatures were already nearly all gathered. Teachers, together with the support of the Polish people, are determined to fight till they secure the withdrawal of the reform.

 

 

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