Education International
Education International

Nationwide strike in Portugal from 17-18 Oct to defend the teaching profession

published 16 October 2006 updated 16 October 2006

A two-day strike will be held from 17-18 October by education workers from all over Portugal to protest against the lack of negotiation in the forthcoming reform of teachers' career and working conditions.

Earlier on 5 October, World Teachers' Day, more than 25 000 education workers took part in a march in the capital Lisbon to demonstrate against the Ministry of Education's proposal to introduce a teaching career statute for pre-school instructors and teachers at primary and secondary level.

The new statute sets out major changes for teachers in terms of career entry and development, the duration and organisation of working time, absenteeism, seniority and adjustments to the retirement age. The unions regard the proposal as a serious attack on the teacher’s profession.

The Portuguese government announced its plan to change the Statue of Teachers' Career in February this year, and plans to consult with teachers were only made known in early August. Only six meetings were scheduled before the end of October.

EI affiliates in the country, the Federaçao Nacional dos Professores (FENPROF), Federaçao Nacional dos Sindicatos da Educaçao (FNE) and the Sindicato Democrático Professores (SINDEP) reacted immediately to the lack of respect for the negotiation process by forming a Union Platform to remind the government that consultation with social partners is mandated by the constitution.

According to an FNE representative, the Ministry did not show any willingness to consider the most important principles defended by the teachers, namely:

  • career development should take into account the length of service and the results of the evaluation of the teacher performance with the real aim of promoting the excellence;
  • evaluation of the teacher performance should be made in the context of the school evaluation without any punitive effect on the teacher's career, and with the principal aim of detecting problems and difficulties, in order to help teachers to better their performance;
  • respect for the most basic rights of the teachers, as civil servants and citizens, such as the sufficient provision of in-service training per year, the probational year should take into account one's legal rights as a parent, as well as collective bargaining.

EI urges the Portuguese government to respect the Constitution as well as the teaching profession. Any reform of the profession should be made in negotiation with the teachers in order to be successful.