TEACHING unions are striking en masse today in protest against teacher cuts in state schools – and, exceptionally, private school teachers are joining in.
Almost all of the state school unions have called a strike, as well as five private school ones.
The general secretary of one Catholic school teachers’ union (SPELC), Luc Viehé, said: “It’s practically a first; because we want to draw people’s attention to the planned cutting of 1,350 jobs in private education in 2012, while numbers of pupils are expected to go up.”
Around 100 protests are expected around France and parents’ associations also plan to take part. The main primary school union, SNUipp, said it expected 54% of its teachers to take part, though the Education Ministry was predicting less than half that figure.
A strong contingent of secondary staff is also expected to take part, said a spokesman for SNES. “It’s one of the worst rentrées we’ve had and [Education Minister] Luc Chatel keeps looking serenely calm about everything, which is annoying.”
The strikers hope to influence MPs and they start to debate the 2012 budget, which plans for another 14,000 state education cuts (through non-replacement of retirees) next year following 16,000 this rentrée.
Theoretically schools are obliged to organise a service minimum – so that children can still go to school, even if normal classes may be disrupted – when there are strikes; though in practice this is not possible in certain communes.
We asked our readers on Facebook: "Have you been affected by the strikes?" - They said:
"Lots of teachers where I work (private Catholic high school) are on strike as is my daughter's school so she's at home. I have colleagues that are 'on strike' so not getting paid but who are still going into work to teach for the children's sake but at least like that they are a statistic in the strike numbers and therefore protesting." - Kirsten S.
"The teachers have been striking every year since I arrived in France and that is six years ago. Sometimes you wonder whether its just for extra holidays." - Joy C.
"We have been here 5 years now and like you Joy, the strikes have been part of the school calendar every year. One comes to expect it and wonders how effective the protests actually are, given that they are 'guaranteed' to happen every year!?" - Rachel B.
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