Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Teachers Struggles Around the World

Croatia has been cutting its spending in order to close its deficit and improve its credit rating as it prepares to enter the European Union. It has been doing this by slashing public services like education and healthcare. In response, teachers and nurses have been striking against government plans to cut their pay. 70% of Croatia’s education workforce took part in a strike last Thursday, according to the Teacher Solidarity website.

In the German state of Saxony, teachers have begun a series of “warning” strikes for “equitable education funding” (also from the Teacher Solidarity website). More than 20,000 people (75% of Saxony’s education workers) took part in a November 16th strike, with thousands participating in rallies in Leipzig, Dresden and other cities. One of the strikers’ demands is a shorter work week for older teachers to ease their workload and provide more openings for younger teachers, who make up a minority of Saxony’s teaching staff.

Meanwhile, in Hawaii, teachers have been participating in work-to-rule actions every Thursday in an attempt to roll back concessions imposed on them by their governor two years ago (from Labor Notes). The 2011 contract, which expires in 2013, included cuts to their pay and benefits. Their union negotiated a compromise contract, which included performance pay, evaluation reforms and a two-tiered compensation system for new hires. Not surprisingly, the teachers voted this contract down.

The teachers are arriving just before classes start and leaving immediately at the end of classes, temporarily ending after school tutoring, club supervision, lesson planning and grading papers. In lieu of their normal unpaid labor before and after school, the teachers have waving signs to passersby to promote their cause. They are hoping to bring up wages (starting salaries for Hawaiian teachers are only $31,000) and resist pressure to accept performance pay.

As in many states, Hawaiian teachers are barred from striking until after negotiations have resulted in impasse. Rather than waiting until then, when it would be harder to mobilize teachers, as well as public support, they have begun their protests and outreach early. So far, teachers are saying that students and parents are supporting their actions. The key will be to maintain both high participation rates in their actions, as well as public support, until their demands are met.


  1. Mahalo for covering our story and mahalo for your support! Mele kalikimaka!