French teachers’ unions call for second major school strike against Covid ‘chaos’

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French teachers’ unions on Monday called for a second major strike this week to protest the government’s Covid testing and isolation protocols, which they say are seriously disrupting lessons.

The move follows a one-day strike last week that saw half of the country’s primary schools close, according to unions, who accuse authorities of failing to establish clear rules that would keep as many pupils as possible. at school.

Teachers say classroom disruptions have become unmanageable with the spread of the highly contagious variant of the Omicron coronavirus, with many parents struggling to get vaccination appointments for their children and long queues for tests forming outside pharmacies.

In response, the government has promised to provide five million high-quality FFP2 masks to school staff and hire more than 3,000 substitute teachers to replace those who have been forced into self-isolation after contracting Covid or coming into contact. with an infected person.

But that wasn’t enough for the unions, who said Thursday’s renewed strike would be a prelude to a “massive” nationwide walkout on January 27.

“The chaos resulting from the management of this health crisis requires strong measures, beyond the commitments made by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education”, declared a group of four unions in a press release also signed by the FCPE , the largest parents’ federation in France. .

They want the government to hire enough substitutes to replace all absent teachers as Covid cases spread rapidly in schools.

Children who test positive for the virus must stay home for up to 10 days while their classmates are forced to take three tests in four days.

Teachers also want more personal protective equipment “well beyond the amounts promised” and more fundamental investments in the French education system, where the average salary of teachers is lower than in many other European countries.

However, the call for a new strike on Thursday was not joined by other major union groups, including the Snuipp-FSU, the largest among primary school teachers.

(AFP)

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