Strikes and instigators

There are more ways than one of interpreting yesterday’s schoolteachers’ strike, and the teachers’ mobilizations in general. One way, which many in the broadcasting media focus on, is to disregard the actual event and instead emphasize the subsequent traffic tie-ups it created. So, rather than showing the strikers shouting slogans, even briefly, the camera focuses on fuming drivers stuck in traffic jams. A second way, which equally diverts attention from the rally and its root causes, is to dismiss the strike as a reflex reaction, as an outgrowth of the government handouts, or as a disingenuous, politically immature action. Those who seek to discredit the strikers in this way confuse journalism with the pro-government sophistries that circulate widely. The government, flummoxed as it is, swings between the two interpretations in an effort to paint a convincing picture. According to the first view, the teachers’ strike is just a seasonal phenomenon, an autumnal union habit. The other interpretation holds that it is a purely economic action, actually spearheaded by higher-income groups. And a third scenario has it that the demonstrations are politically instigated. When so much ingenuity is put to the service of interpretation, little room is left for self-criticism. However, we should acknowledge that the strike is, in fact, politically instigated, and the main culprit is the government itself. The mere fact that a month after the schools opened, there are about 1,400 empty posts in 16 of the 58 Regional Secondary School Directorates should be enough to push teachers, pupils and their parents into the streets. That is, if we take education to mean something more than a mere supplement to private cramming schools.