Teachers unions around the world clash with governments over coronavirus and school reopening plans

Saturday, September 12, 2020
By Miariam Berger, The Washington Post

Public-sector teachers unions around the world vary widely in role and makeup, shaped in part by local regulations, state-labor relations and the climate for political dissent. But a common thread ties many of them together: opposition to policies that have eroded public education, said Ellen David Friedman of Labor Notes, a grass-roots labor organization based in Detroit.

“We are now at a crisis moment where all over the world people are realizing the centrality of public education,” she said. “Teachers unions are the last line of defense.”

Edwards said he has observed three trends among his organization’s global affiliates.

In places with “high trust, high dialogue” — including Argentina, New Zealand and Scandinavian countries — teachers “haven’t needed to resort to industrial action,” he said. Instead, they have been in continuous talks with policymakers over when and how to reopen schools, and related issues such as sick pay and overtime.

In Britain, France, Germany and Greece, among other countries in Europe, some unions have been very vocal in opposition to official plans.

In countries with “a history of lack of dialogue and consultation with the government,” teachers have been more likely to threaten or resort to strikes, he said.

Read the full story from The Washington Post

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