Unions call for new draft of proposed public teachers statute
After the Ministry of Education and Culture presented the first draft of the Statute of Non-University Public Teaching Staff, the trade unions participating in the National Sectoral Commission requested a postponement of the bargaining round. The Ministry has now presented a second draft that will cover 500,000 Spanish teachers and is currently being studied by the trade unions. The unions have put forward a series of conditions that must be met if they are to accept this proposal.
In late May 2006, the Ministry of Education and Culture (Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, MEC) presented a preliminary draft of the Statute of Non-University Public Teaching Staff, expecting that it would be ratified within a few days. However, all of the trade unions participating in the National Sectoral Commission expressed their disapproval of the MEC’s haste in concluding the bargaining process, and called for a postponement in order to give time to discuss the proposals with teachers.
The trade unions concerned include the Independent Trade Union Confederation of Public Servants (Central Sindical Independiente y de Funcionarios, CSIF); the Education Federation of the Trade Union Confederation of Workers’ Commissions (Federación de Enseñanza de Confederación Sindical de Comisiones Obreras, Federación de Enseñanza de CC.OO); the Education Workers’ Federation of the General Workers’ Confederation (Federación de Trabajadores de la Enseñanza de la Unión General de Trabajadores, FETE-UGT); the National Association of Education Teachers (ANPE Sindicato Independiente, ANPE); the Public Administration Workers’ Federation (Federación de Servicios y Administraciones Públicas, FSAP), affiliated to CC.OO; the Workers’ Trade Union Confederation (Confederatión Unión Sindical Obrera, USO); and the Galician Trade Union Confederation (Confederación Intersindical Galega, CIG).
Main points of dispute
Some points of the first draft were particularly controversial. The Confederation of Education Worker Unions (Confederación de Sindicatos de Trabajadores de la Enseñanza, STES) – an organisation that has a significant level of affiliation among teachers – even withdrew from the bargaining commission. Its criticisms included the following arguments:
- career progression is linked to the arbitrary judgement of hierarchical superiors and generates competition between teachers;
- the system of voluntary appraisal for teachers is discriminatory because it can lead to benefits in terms of internal promotion, transfer rights and pay;
- school management and inspectors are given an excessive role with regard to evaluation, which fosters servility among teachers;
- the treatment of non-tenured staff is worse than that offered in some of the autonomous communities and places thousands of teachers in a precarious employment situation;
- the health and safety regulations fail to acknowledge or list the illnesses commonly suffered by teaching staff.
Trade union demands
All of the trade unions agree that this statute is important, as no similar agreement has been reached in the sector for almost 20 years, and that it forms the backbone of the education reform undertaken by the MEC. However, they have also reached a sufficient consensus to insist on the fact that its approval depends on the acceptance of a series of fundamental points laid down in the Basic Agreement of October 2005. These points concern in particular the new system of admission to the educational civil service and pay supplements; some sources also mention the emphasis on shorter working hours with full pay for teachers over the age of 55 years, the Concilia Plan (ES0602104F), and health and safety measures.
The trade unions warned about the possibility of protest action in September or at the beginning of the school year if their demands were not met by the MEC. Furthermore, they called for a detailed schedule of negotiations on all the aspects to be regulated by the agreement. These aspects include access to the civil service, the structure of civil servant groups, the pay structure, trade union rights, promotion and professional career systems, school management, transfers and mobility, working time and holidays, social security, retirement and competitions for posts abroad.
The statute is intended to form the basis on which the autonomous communities develop their own agreements within the context of their own priorities. However, the process had come to a standstill pending the MEC’s response to the trade union demands.
Mari Luz Castellanos, CIREM Foundation