OPINION

Teachers and state must change tactics

It appears that the time has come for us to invent new methods of negotiation in the sphere of politics. Ministers and those teachers who follow their trade union leaders have first-hand knowledge of the fact that the tactic of strike action as a means of negotiation is ineffective. Everyone must have realized this by now. Logically, after so many years of social-democratic government and European culture, we should have seen the development of new techniques of negotiation between social groups and employers, whether the latter belong to the state or to the private sector. Had a meticulous study of teachers’ aims and demands been carried out, we might not be witnessing the current chaos crippling the country’s education sector. For instance, teachers’ calls for «a minimum monthly net salary of 1,400 euros» should have been analyzed exhaustively in a way comprehensible to educationalists and taxpayers; after all it is tax-paying citizens who would be paying the cost of such a change. If this had happened, we would have had recourse to some hard facts and this would have set the claims of protesting teachers in a more meaningful context. The same applies for the other side. The Education Ministry keeps passing the buck, insisting on the scantness of state funds, instead of explaining the necessary prerequisites that would allow it to satisfy some of the striking teachers’ demands. What is worse, the country’s political leadership has wasted its time in skirmishes over ideology and has used the unacceptable tactic of making «off-the-record» statements. But instead of complaining about the inadequate and sometimes downright shifty way in which some media organizations exploit the problems in the education sector to their own ends, the government should make the time to hear more detailed explanations of teachers’ demands and to expand the current debate. If there is an education program, as the ministry maintains, then we should know about it.