Back to school, for now

Teachers have decided to go back to school from Monday after a long strike – six weeks by primary school teachers and 10 days by their secondary school colleagues – but unrest in the education sector continues, with students joining in by occupying their schools and few signs of either the teachers or the government being ready to compromise. In deciding to put an end to the strike on Wednesday night, teachers pledged to make up for lost hours but they also announced two 24-hour strikes, for November 3 and 9, and have pledged to continue staging one-day strikes as long as the government will not accept their demands for a hefty salary rise and the award of an agreed to 105-euro bonus immediately instead of in six installments, as the government proposes. The students’ school occupation movement continued to expand yesterday, with 1,012 secondary schools reported occupied yesterday. It is expected, however, that students will decide to end their occupation Monday. They have been using the Internet to communicate through blogs and coordinate their action, while their teachers have used more traditional methods of mobilization. Students have said that they might use today’s school marches, commemorating Greece’s entry into World War II on October 28, 1940, to publicize their own demands. Teachers are said to be lukewarm to the idea. Sources have told Kathimerini that the primary school teachers’ union DOE has submitted a plan to make up for lost hours. The plan includes prolonging school by 10 days in June and using the time to teach mostly language and math and add one extra hour to the school program for the next three (for grades 1-3) or four months (grades 4-6). This would avoid the unpopular step of cutting into the two-week Christmas and Easter holidays. Yesterday, a court threw out a parent’s petition to declare the strike illegal and force teachers to end it. The Athens Court of First Instance said the parent’s petition was too vaguely worded to establish material interest in the case.