Basque Country: thousands of education workers strike for a safe return to school and quality education for all students

15 September 2020

The COVID 19 outbreak is a public health crisis quite different than anything Europe has faced for many years. As education personnel and their trade unions grapple with the outbreak, we are supporting and informing member organisations in any way we can.

On 15 September 2020, following protests, 70% of education workers in the Basque Autonomous Community joined in a widely successful strike to demand measures allowing for a safe return to school and guaranteeing quality education. 

Mobilising for a safe return to school in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, 70% of education workers in the Basque Autonomous Community went on strike on 15 September, an action called for by all of the trade unions in the Basque Autonomous Community (ELA, LAB, Steilas, CCOO and UGT). Atop this impressive mobilisation, highlighting the urgency of the need for measures, education workers received widespread support in the streets, namely from numerous parents’ associations and student movements. Protests were organised in Bilbao, Vitoria-Gasteiz, and San Sebastian, gathering a total of 17 000 people. The scale of this mobilisation is all the more remarkable given government’s last-minute attempts to defuse the strike, as denounced by the trade unions.

Education trade unions are demanding the immediate implementation of measures to guarantee a safe and consensual face to face return to school. This return, however, cannot be done safely unless the government agrees to reduce student presence in the classroom to a maximum of 10 to 15 students, increases staff ratios in all domains of the school, and provides schools with Personal protective equipment (PPE). Education trade unions further stress the need to reduce existing inequalities, including technological, and linguistical, and to guarantee canteen services for all children.

The movement in the Basque Autonomous Community echoes the demands made by education workers and our member organisations throughout Europe. The ETUCE continues to stand with its member organisations in their efforts to facilitate the recovery of the education sector from the COVID-19 crisis and their efforts for healthy, safe, and inclusive schools. Detailed measures can be found in our statement The Road to Recovery from the COVID-19 Crisis.