Teachers at crossroads

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s comments on the demands by primary and preschool teachers left no doubt as to whether he has taken a different approach than his Education Minister Marietta Giannakou. The premier’s statement was brief but nonetheless clear. «Given the state of the economy, we ensured the benefit that we had promised to give teachers, thereby fulfilling a demand made many years ago,» Karamanlis said. «The important thing is to start with our education reforms which have the support of the vast majority of citizens,» he added. Given the hard-line posturing of the conservative administration, people have turned to the Greek Primary Teachers’ Federation (DOE) hoping for a more conciliatory stance that will bring an end to a strike that has affected thousands of families across the country. Teachers must decide whether they are up for a lengthy clash with all the consequences that this will engender for thousands of people. If teachers decide to prolong their action against the government they will not only affect thousands of workers who want to see their children finally go to school. They will probably also harm their own interests because they will upset a large section of society which would otherwise back their demands. Even if teachers feel they are in the right they know that social unrest is detrimental to both the common good and their own interests. Often, deft maneuvers can yield more than a head-on conflict.