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The heat will be on as the summer school term reaches its end. The unions in the Catalan education sector have this Thursday announced four new days of strike as the open conflict continues with the education ministry led by Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray. In a tense situation, the teaching unions have decided to go on the offensive and will strike four times in as many weeks: on May 17th and 25th, and June 2nd and 9th. As well, the nature of the stoppages on these days will vary: the stoppages on May 17th and June 2nd will be partial (only disrupting activities between 8am and 10am in the morning), while those on May 25th and June 9th will be complete, for the whole of the school day.


In explanation of this strike schedule, the unions have pointed out the high cost of the actions on the wallets of the teachers themselves. March was already tense, with a total of five mobilizations during the month. Now the unions want to keep their own members on side so that they continue to join the protests. "This was one of the proposals that came from the teachers themselves - not to hurt ourselves economically," they explained. At the same time, they also point to further action beyond these four days: once again, a threat of starting an indefinite stoppage before the end of the year, or starting the next term in September with more disruptions.

"We could go on strike indefinitely"

In a joint statement, signed by USTEC spokesperson Iolanda Segura but also with the support of other groups CCOO, Intersindical-CSC, Aspepc-Sps, UGT, CGT and Usoc, the unions say that the recovery of one teaching hour per week in the next school year in primary schools but not in secondary schools, as offered by the ministry, is insufficient. "Despite our willingness to continue negotiating this proposal, the department has decided to break off relations. Therefore, we have no choice but to call more strikes," the statement warned. "We reserve the right to call more strikes, as they could be indefinite if the situation arises. We have that on the table as a possibility."

At the end of April, there was a major rift between the Catalan education department and the unions. The government published the staffing decree on the internal portal of the public administration without contemplating any changes. And in statements to the media, the director general for teaching and other staff in public schools, Dolors Collell, blamed the teaching representatives. She regretted that no agreement had been reached with them, connected to the events that sent the educational community out onto the streets of Barcelona during the month of March. 

The unions also complained about the attitude of the minister, who last week denounced that among the boycott and protest actions by the unions there were images of "violent individuals". He admitted that these people did not represent all teachers but warned that the boycotts would not prevent him from carrying out the proposed measures.

Demonstration on May 14

The new strike dates starting on May 17th follow the announcement of a new demonstration slightly earlier - on May 14th - in which many of the unions that filled the streets of Barcelona last March will take part. But not everyone will be there this time: CCOO, UGT and USOC have not joined in. The new protest calls for quality public education, with the gradual elimination of the historical agreement that partially incorporates private schools into the system - in the case of schools "that do not respond to schooling needs, but always preserving the labour rights of workers".