Week of recent unprecedented mobilizations in Catalan schools. The teachers begin a five-day strike on Tuesday – three of them, this week – against the educational policies of the Generalitat and the lack of dialogue that they attribute to the Minister of Education, Josep González Cambray. The trigger for the different days of unemployment is the new school calendar – the start of the school year is brought forward by a week – but the unions put forward a long list of demands, from the haste in the application of the curricula to the lack of resources for the model inclusive school, to reduce interim or improve ratios.
The strike days are from this Tuesday to Thursday – March 15, 16 and 17 – and also on March 29 and 30. The mobilization, as a whole, is supported by almost all the unions in the sector: USTEC, CCOO, UGT, ASPEPC, Intersindical, CGT and USOC. But the big day of protest in the sector is planned for this Tuesday, since it includes the concerted party (which calls only on the 15th and 16th), other areas such as educational leisure (dining room monitors, after-school monitors…) and staff employment of the Department of Education. In addition, even the directors of schools and institutes, at least in Barcelona and Girona, have joined the protest this Tuesday with a strong position against the “improvisation” of the Department of Education.
In his letter, sent to the families, the hundreds of directors who sign it (in Barcelona, all Primary and Secondary) accuse Cambray of treating them with contempt for having had to find out about changes in the educational management of their centers “for the press”. Among his concerns, they highlight the lack of “human and material resources” to deploy inclusive school policies or the need to stabilize staff. They also regret the “unilateral” announcement of the new calendar. “A measure like this cannot be announced without having previously agreed with the schools, school boards, unions and families,” he summarizes.
The directors share other claims with the unions, such as the defense of linguistic immersion against the sentences that force 25% of classes to be taught in Spanish and the brake on the new curriculum. On the latter, those responsible for the centers ask for time to debate it, while the workers’ unions are directly against the proposal.
Families, for their part, do not call for protest. Some have been against it because the calendar change was the trigger, but even so, the main association of parents, AFFAC, supports the teachers. “We understand the demands of the teaching staff and we have the utmost respect for the call for a strike that they have promoted, but we do not have the capacity to explain labor demands,” they add.
In an attempt to calm the teachers’ spirits, counselor Cambray decided to send a letter to everyone last Friday. In it, he refuted some of his demands, such as the fact that ratios will be lowered to 20 in the first year of Infants, and announced greater “flexibility” when applying the new curricula and that he will take charge “in the first person” of the answer to the sentence of 25%. He remains to see the impact he had on the faculty beyond angering the unions.
In view of the development of the strike, minimum services have been decreed that will consist of guaranteeing the attendance of one member of the management team and one teacher for every three classrooms, in addition to 50% of the dining room staff. According to unions such as CCOO, these are “abusive” minimum services because they prevent 20% of the 120,000 teachers questioned from supporting the strike. As for the demonstrations, this Tuesday there will be a march towards the Department of Education from Jardinets de Gràcia and, on Wednesday, one towards the Teaching Hall, inaugurated by Cambray.