Friday 21 September 2012

For an Educational Strike

Members of ZSP Education union in Warsaw have started a campaign to agitate for strike action in the educational sector. Posters were hung in and around some institutions and schools and leaflets distributed promoting the idea. The action is in response to the tragic situation in the educational sector, at all levels.

Besides the increasing problems of the commercialization of education and worsening work conditions, including the precarization of some jobs or categories of workers, we are faced with the mass liquidation of primary and secondary schools: the government has announced now that the recent wave of hundreds of closures is just the beginning. Up to 4700 schools may be closed between now and 2014.

On September 20, members of ZSP visited the City Council in Warsaw to protest with teachers.about the scandalous behaviour of politicians towards their pay, concretely regarding the issue of "motivational bonuses".  The reason for this is that in July, without notice and in the summer when most teachers are on vacation, the city decided to recalculate the way motivational bonuses are paid, setting an average amount per teacher in the budget. Unfortunately, the unions agreed to this, meaning that the money allocated would be 25% less than the average had been in 2011.

But it turned out that the city did not even fulfill this. Teachers in the Mokotow district were allocated only half of what had been promised, even after this huge cut.

In usual fashion, the politicians decided to speak about this topic at the beginning of the meeting, when few people were in attendance, instead of later, when the teachers could be present to have a voice. Nonetheless, some people from Solidarity, ZNP and ZSP were there during the debate. In response to the speeches of the teacher unionists, the vice-president Paszynski gave a scandalous speech in which he claimed that teachers earn much more than the national average, so the problem was exaggerated!

Amongst other interesting points was a hard discussion between one member of ZSP and of ZNP where the ZSP activist criticized them for not striking and taking harder action in light of such events.

After 14, a large group of teachers arrived but the city did not agree to listen to them. Unfortunately, there was no agreement by them to take a radical action, which is what ZSP is agitating for. It is very clear that in this situation, the two mainstream unions which are active in education are rather just trying to negotiate a "more humane" form of the death penalty for the workers.

Despite the fact that this is an enormous problem and our organization is not strong compared to these, we are continuing the agitation and making contacts, even in other cities. The ZSP is also publishing information about strikes in other countries and publishing interviews with comrades who have been involved.  (Some of these can be found in the English section of the ZSP page:

More to follow.