A brave way out of the crisis

The crisis in the schools, with a teachers’ strike already in its third week, is not solely a unionist or educational issue – it has now assumed a clearly social and political character. Repeated strikes, demonstrations and a stalemate in the negotiations have already affected the striking teachers’ finances but also the pupils’ families, those hundreds of thousands of households who organize their schedules around the school day. Society has already been disrupted. It is not a time for attributing blame, nor will anything be solved by turning public opinion against the teachers and dividing society. Still, it is clear that the conflict between teachers and the government has led to a stalemate – a double stalemate – both for the strikers and for the political leadership. Both declare they will not give in and both claim to have right on their side. However, the conflict is being waged at society’s expense. Those who are innocent and who have nothing to do with the problem are the ones who are paying. The crisis is of benefit to no one, and no one is likely to be the winner. The issue, therefore, is to find a dignified end to the conflict – both sides must make compromises without losing face. After all, they both want a vital, functioning school system, a vital, functioning society. No one wants to see schools closed, roads blocked by demonstrators or teachers defeated and humiliated. Why don’t both sides be brave and admit that they are not rivals but working together for the good of society?