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Education unions call four-day strike for end of May and early June

Protests to be held on May 25 and June 9 and partial strikes on May 17 and June 2

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05 May 2022 10:31 AM

by

ACN | Barcelona

Several education unions in Catalonia have called for a new strike to protest against changes and conditions in the public sector. Teachers will halt their activities on May 25 and on June 9, while a partial strike has been called for May 17 and June 2 between 8 am and 10 am.

On Thursday, unions kept urging Catalan education minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray to step down. Strike organizers did not rule out an indefinite strike if the department does not change its position.

These new strikes will be held a few days before the end of the academic year. The next one will start in early September, as the Catalan president announced in February, prompting complaints from the education sector.

This change is one of the many unions are against, as they claim they have not been asked before announcing the measure.

"Until now, the ministry has not shown any interest to negotiate. We ask that the lecture hour reductions are applied to everyone next academic year, we do not accept for them to divide us," Iolanda Segura, USTEC teacher’s union said to media outlets.

However, the Catalan cabinet believes it will benefit families and children as their aim is to help the work-life balance of families and "narrow the gap between courses," Pere Aragonès, the president said in February. Equal opportunity among kids was also sought since the lowest-income families cannot afford certain summer activities.

At the time, Aragonès said the current gap between courses is "too big," given that the break between courses lasts around 80 days. "It is one of the longest in Europe," added education minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray then, clarifying that however, the total number of course hours is similar to other countries and the number of hours will continue to be the same.

Strikes in March

The changes did not content the education sector that already organized five days of strikes in March. At the same time, unions called for demonstrations, and the first one organized surpassed the 22,000 protesters.

Despite having been peaceful demonstrations, the education ministry condemned the acts. One of these protests happened during the Education sector fair in Barcelona, at the time, several teachers and students forced Gonzàlez-Cambray from inaugurating the event because of the pressure. 

What are these protests about?

Teachers' unions are against the announced changes to the school curriculum, which include reducing hours of instruction of certain subjects, a greater focus on language learning and the development of technological skills, and modifying the grading scale, as well as starting the academic year a week earlier than usual. 

And even though Cambray has stated that schools in Catalonia will not have to implement curriculum changes next academic year if they do not want to, this has not been enough to appease unions, who call out what they describe as the government's "deceit" following an unsuccessful round of talks with authorities. 

Protesters are in favor of increased funding for public services and maintain the issue "is not about 5 vacation days" that would be lost if the academic year were to start a week earlier than usual, but rather about "10 years of budget cuts," and want to reduce the number of teaching hours per teacher to pre-2012 austerity measure levels.  

They also say the Catalan language immersion system must be protected despite the Supreme Court ruling imposing a 25% Spanish language quota, with some arguing the bill backed by Esquerra, Catalunya en Comú, and the Socialists to protect the long-standing policy is insufficient.

The education department, meanwhile, says that they do not have the budget to meet each and every one of the unions' demands at once.

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  • Teachers protesting in Barcelona on second day of education sector strike on March 15, 2022 (by Gerard Escaich Folch)

  • Teachers protesting in Barcelona on second day of education sector strike on March 15, 2022 (by Gerard Escaich Folch)

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