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Society

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Front uni contre Xavier Darcos

by Laurent Mouloud

United Front Against Xavier Darcos

Translated Thursday 4 December 2008, by Alison Billington

On November 20th, day of the national strike, the grammar school pupils will join the teachers union on what promises to be a very well-attended day of action. Hissed at by the grammar school pupils, shouted down by primary school teachers and criticised by comprehensive school people, Xavier Darcos is in a tight spot.

On November 20th, day of the national strike, the grammar school pupils will join the teachers unions on what promises to be a very well-attended day of action. Hissed at by the grammar school pupils, shouted down by primary school teachers and criticised by comprehensive school people, Xavier Darcos is in a tight spot. On 20th November, the Minister for Education will endure a new day of the national strike. He is to confront what looks like nothing less than a united front of unions. A total of 21 organisations from the education sector are calling for a march and among them the entirety of the teaching unions. Everyone looking on expects a ‘big rally’ — a rally to equal the exasperation which is building up in the teaching world.

Xavier Darcos, ever a glutton for punishment, has been giving more and more reasons for dissension. Actions such as the abolition of schooling for the under threes, getting rid of the network of specialised help for ESN pupils. There is an imbroglio of overtime, phasing out of university departments for teacher training and surveillance of public leaders (see below)… So many controversies have arisen since the beginning of term, in addition to the announcements of job losses (13,500) where jobs were not funded by the 2009 budget and the widely contested grammar school reforms.

On Saturday, the Minister for Education was able to take stock of the extent of the damage. He arrived to ‘discuss’ with 600 grammar school pupils and was booed out. "Basically, there was absolutely no debate", an annoyed Alix Nicolet, President of the FEDL, the grammar school pupils’ unions said. "Everyone was under the impression that the reform had already been instituted and that we’d been brought together to just look good…" the two main grammar school unions (FIDL and UNL) as well as the National Union of French Students - UNEF’s - students joined forces on Thursday.

Xavier Darcos’ ‘attitude’is also deplored by the teachers. Yesterday, the two main primary school unions (SNUipp-FSN and SE-UNSA) condemned the ‘lack of public talks’ and the ‘contempt’ displayed by their minister. "The preremptory ministerial commands, translated into unremitting administrative pressure on the matter, the obsession with budget finances, the doubt cast on their professional skills- all exasperate teachers," writes the primary school teachers union SE-UNSA. According to Gerard Aschieri, General Secretary of the FSU union, the situation is easily explained: "It’s the result of the reaction, or rather the absence of the minister’s reaction."


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