Among the list of 2,122 teachers who are to be suspended with reduced pay and almost certainly to be fired under a plan ordered by international lenders to cut the Greek workforce is OLME teachers union head Themis Kotsifakis, who has been leading protests against the scheme.
New Administrative Reform Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis promised that unqualified workers would be the first to put on a list of 25,000 people in the so-called mobility scheme and paid 75 percent of their already reduced pay and then fired unless another spot can be found for them within eight months.
Kotsifakis said that was just a cover story and that many teachers with advanced degrees would be among those let go as critics said the government would move to protect its favorites and go after perceived enemies and dissidents.
The Ministry also posted a list of teachers exempt from the suspension measure, as well as a list of teachers who are exempt due to working at the Sivitanidio School of Trades and Vocations. Teachers with post-graduate and doctoral degrees are not exempt from the measure.
According to the Minister of Education Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos, 60% of the 2,122 suspended teachers will be transferred to other posts in the healthcare sector, while the other 40% will cover administrative positions in regional education directories and continue to work on an hourly rate, until their last students graduate from the technical schools that are to shut down.
Kotsifakis said that “33% of students at technical schools will not be able to study what they want in the public schools. Nine expensive labs in technical schools will be useless. Private school owners are rejoicing. They will not forget to invite the Minister of Education at the inauguration ceremonies of their new departments. Perhaps they will even declare him an honorary benefactor”.
Kotsifakis, who has been working as a teacher since 1989, was suspended from his job at a state technical college for teenagers in a suburb of Athens.
“Most of the kids at technical colleges are from poorer families. So the consequence of these actions will be that more children will leave school at a young age,” Kotsifakis told the AP while participating in a peaceful protest rally outside the finance ministry.
“All this talk of assessment, merit, and overstaffing was just a cover,” he said. “Today they have suspended teachers, many of whom are highly qualified, with post-graduate degrees. This is not a reform — it’s the demolition of a system and people’s rights.”