With the beginning of the Greek school year looming, the teachers federation OLME said may strike to protest the transfer and firing of its members, and would ask the courts to intervene to stop a scheme being carried out by the government on the orders of international lenders.
OLME told teachers to be at their posts on Sept. 2, ahead of the return of students, as the union plans militant action against the so-called mobility scheme which will see 12,500 civil servants – including several thousand teachers – receiving 75 percent of their already-reduced pay for up to eight months and then fired if another position can’t be found for them.
OME’s board plans to meet on Aug. 28 to determine its plans for a strike at the start of the new academic year on Sept. 11. The local ELME teacher unions are to meet Sept. 4-5 to see what they want to do, with their Presidents assembling on Sept. 9 to decide whether to go along with strikes.
OLME said it would also support an Aug. 29 protest scheduled by the public workers union ADEDY, as well as backing a protest at the International Fair in Thessaloniki on Sept. 7.
The government said it would seek an injunction to prevent any strike although there was no word on whether Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, as he did with striking Metro and port workers, would issue a civil mobilization order forcing teachers to work under the pain of arrest and losing their jobs.
Earlier this month, Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos said there would be no teacher layoffs, adding that authorities were doing all they could to satisfy the preferences of educators who have been included in a list of compulsory transfers which aim to cover shortages with surplus staff. “I want to reassure all teachers that no jobs are at risk,” he said.
That doesn’t mean, however, that teachers may have to move from school to school during the day to meet class schedules or would be moved away from the schools where they have been teaching, even for some distances. The government earlier also said that some teachers would be moved from one specialty to another and that others could wind up working in hospitals.
In July some 2,500 teachers were put into a mobility scheme, which foresees them getting reduced wages until their transfer to another post or dismissal. Of these teachers, a large number are to be transferred to jobs in the health sector, which is facing shortages.
Arvanitopoulos said educators who teach health-related subjects will be the first to be transferred to health sector jobs. OLME’s President, Themis Kotsifakis said, “It is the government that will close schools with so many cutbacks,” he said.