Teachers across France are striking again today (January 20) in protest against the government’s management of the Covid crisis in schools.
A demonstration is set to take place this afternoon in Paris. Christophe Lalande, federal secretary of the Force ouvrière pour l’enseignement (FNEC FP-FO), said the protest will “not be prevented” by the prefecture even though it was declared after the legal deadline (this must be carried out at least three days before its planned date).
It is due to leave the Jardin du Luxembourg at 14:00, heading for the education ministry.
Today’s strike is predicted to be on a smaller scale to last week’s when a reported 78,000 teachers took part in demonstrations across the country.
The education ministry said that 38.5% of primary teachers had gone on strike, while unions claimed that the true figure was actually closer to 75%.
Mobilisation is expected to be boosted today by anger over Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer’s announcement of post-Christmas rules from a holiday in Ibiza.
Last week’s strike united the vast majority of French education unions, and many of them – including the FSU, CGT Educ’action, SUD Education and parent union FCPE – have called for action to be renewed today.
The Snuipp-FSU primary teaching union has said the mobilisation: “illustrates the growing despondency within schools” in the face of the “incapacity to manage the health crisis within schools but also more generally the educational policy in force for the last five years which is ruining schools and showing contempt for staff.”
As they called teachers to strike once again this week, unions argued that “the chaos engendered by the management of the health crisis deserves a strong response, beyond what has been promised” so far.
Following last week’s strike, Mr Blanquer had promised that the government would distribute five million FFP2 masks, and recruit 3,300 supply teachers to fill in for those self-isolating with Covid.
The unions said that these measures were “insufficient,” demanding that the government “create all the posts necessary to ensure that [Covid-positive teachers] will be replaced” and to “provide schools with enough protective equipment, much more than the amount that has been announced.”
Although the number of teachers striking is expected to be smaller today, further actions are planned, including protests in front of schools.
The proportion of teachers who are expected to be taking part today has not yet been published.
Today’s strike is set to culminate in an interprofessional day of action next Thursday (January 27).