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Unions divided over today's nursery school strike
By thinkSPAIN Team Tue, May 21, 2019
INFANT schools across the whole of Spain may be shut today as many of their workers are called upon to join a nationwide strike which has left unions divided.
The Labourers' Commissions (CCOO), one of the country's main unions, has convened the strike in protest over 'lack of job security' which a forthcoming collective working conditions agreement will 'perpetuate'.
Head of teaching at the CCOO, Francisco García, said all political parties, during their current local and regional election campaign, are talking of making schools for children from birth to three years old inclusive 'universal', but which García says translates 'not into quality', but a 'low-cost model'.
According to the CCOO, some 80,000 infant school employees – who, in 95% of cases, are female – in at least 10,000 private and State-run nursery schools 'earn salaries that do not correspond with the work they carry out, the qualifications and training required of them, and the level of responsibility they undertake'.
“These are people who are highly-qualified and paid as though they are menial workers,” García says.
“Salaries in the sector have been frozen for the last seven-and-a-half years.
“Most earn less than €900 a month for a full-time job, yet they have to prepare classes outside of school hours, hold interviews with parents, and prepare quarterly reports on each child.
“Class sizes are larger than stipulated by law – the maximum for children up to a year old is eight per teacher, for those aged one to two, 13 per teacher and for two- and three-year-olds, 18 to 20 per teacher.
“Many nursery school teachers are referred to on their job contracts as 'assistants'.”
But the General Workers' Union (UGT), Spain's other main employee syndicate, calls the strike 'unfortunate'.
The planned collective working conditions agreement due to be signed includes a 5.5% wage rise for private nursery schools, among other positive changes, and the UGT and teaching union FSIE warn that if staff do not back the agreement, they could be 'condemned to continuing to earn the minimum wage', which is set to rise from €858 to €900 a month – based upon 14 annual pay packets – from next January.
Some CCOO members in Madrid who support the strike say they have been warned by their bosses that they could lose their jobs if they proceed.
They also point out that the 'minimum services' requirement set for industries staging strikes only applies to 'essential public services', and that nursery education is not as 'other alternatives exist for parents'.
Mums and dads who normally send their children aged three and under to nursery should check with their schools this morning as to whether they will be open.
Photograph: Regional government of Aragón
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