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Education: Private Schools Will Join Public Schools in Strike

Translated Friday 9 September 2011, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Derek Hanson

Unheard-of: Practically all of the teachers unions in the private schools operating under government contract are joining the call for a 24-hour strike on September 27, initially issued by the public school teachers unions to protest against the axing of jobs in the National Education service.

The FEP-CFDT, the SNEC-CFTC, the SPELC, the SNPEFP-CGT and the SYNEP-CFE-CGC teachers unions are all demanding “zero job losses for the 2012-2013 school year” and are calling on “all the private school staff to defend their future by participating in the September 27 strike in the National Education service and in the agricultural schools,” according to a joint communiqué.

Around “1,350 job losses are again envisaged (in 2012) for the private schools,” the trade unions say. “Since 2008, over 5,000 jobs have been eliminated in the private schools associated with the government, in accordance with the French General Review of Public Policies (RGPP), whereas a sharp rise in the number of pupils is forecast,” they note. The figure of 5,000 job losses includes the 1,433 jobs cut in the 2011-2012 year, Bruno Lamour, the general secretary of the FEP-CFDT union, pointed out. “It’s exceptional for five federations of private teachers unions to issue, a joint appeal to join the public school teachers unions,” he said.

The idea of a joint strike in the private schools has been brewing since late August.

The cutting of jobs — and of teaching jobs alone — in the private schools is having “disastrous” consequences, the federations say. The job cuts “reduce the subjects on offer” because classes and schools are closing, “especially in rural areas.” The job cuts “worsen working conditions for pupils and teachers,” and they render “impossible the special teaching needed by handicapped pupils and failing pupils.” Unlike the situation in the public schools, all of the teachers are in classrooms, not on leave to other jobs. There are no substitute teachers, but the private schools can shift some primary school teaching positions to the secondary schools. The idea of a joint strike in the private schools has been brewing since late August, when the FEP-CFDT, the largest private school teachers federation, announced that it would join the September 27 strike, but it was necessary to wait for the agreement in principle to be finalized. “Our needs are not specific to the private schools, they are indeed the same ones that preoccupy our colleagues in the public schools: /…/ The National Education service has been harmed by the government for some years, and the consequence is that education is no longer a priority,” Bruno Lamour, the general secretary of the FEP-CFDT said at the time.

80,000 jobs axed during Nicolas Sarkozy’s five-year term as president.

Whereas 12 million pupils have returned to classes, teachers unions, school principals and parents belonging to the FCPE (the Federation of Councils of Parents of Pupils) are condemning the worsened working conditions. In the primary schools, 1500 classes have been closed, which has led to “more pupils per class”, the main primary school teachers union, the SNUIPP-FSU, said. The junior and senior high schools have received the same punishment: 4,800 jobs have been cut whereas several tens of thousands of additional pupils are expected.

With the cuts scheduled for the 2012-2013 school year, around 80,000 jobs will have been axed from the National Education service during the 2007-2012 five-year presidential term, “a tendency which is going to continue over the next fifteen years, as the children born during the 2000s baby boom enter the schools,” Daniel Robin, co-secretary of the SNES-FSU teachers union, pointed out in l’Humanité on September 5, 2011.

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