Portuguese Government unwilling to consider demands for full recovery of frozen service time


FENPROF, FNE and eight other Portuguese education trade unions joined the national strike in public administration on 14-15 February 2019. The strike represented a protest against the Portuguese Government's decision to recover only 2 years, 9 months and 18 days of the frozen service time for teachers. The decision was contested given that, due to regional autonomy over education legislation, full recovery of the frozen service time is ensured in the two Portuguese Autonomous Regions of Madeira and the Azores.

The Legislative Assembly of Madeira agreed on 28 November 2018 to propose a legislative decree according to which teachers would recover 9 years, 4 months and 2 days on the frozen service time, which will be phased out over a period of 7 years. The Autonomous Portuguese Region of Azores followed suit, proposing the same recovery time, but phasing it out over 6 years. The salary increases will begin as of 1 September 2019, even though teachers demanded 1 January 2019 as a start date. Moreover, teachers demanded for a phasing out period of only 4 years.

In this context, the recovery time proposed by the Portuguese Government has been met with an outcry from the ten trade union organisations, leading to the Portuguese Parliament forcing the Government to reopen negotiations with teachers, which were held on 25 February 2019. Given these negotiations, further strike actions scheduled for 21 February 2019 were cancelled. The education trade unions' position was clear, as they supported the nationwide implementation of the model of recovery of frozen service time proposed in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, while also allowing teachers to use this recovery time for retirement purposes. More than 60.000 teachers have signed a petition supporting the trade unions' positions, which was presented during the negotiations which took place on 25 February at the Portuguese Ministry of Education.

The negotiations brought no new developments, as the Government remained committed to the 2 years, 9 months and 18 days recovery time initially suggested, going against the Portuguese Parliament's advice and against the demands of education trade unions.

A large national demonstration of teachers and educators is scheduled  on 23 March 2019 in Lisbon.

ETUCE continues monitoring the situation.