After five months of unsuccessful negotiations on a new regime for recruiting and placing teachers, unions and the ministry are holding a supplementary meeting this week under the threat of new strikes.
The first round of negotiations took place shortly after the start of the school year, when a war broke out between teachers and guardianship, which has already dropped some of its initial proposals.
The unions say that there are still “red lines” that prevent them from reaching an agreement, for which it was still necessary to schedule other matters that are not yet on the negotiating table. Here are some questions and answers about what separates teachers and ministry:
Why did the Ministry of Education want to move towards a new teacher recruitment and placement model?
The Ministry of Education (ME) had a worrying picture of the near future of schools, where the shortage of teachers would worsen due to the aging of the class (most are currently over 50 years old and are getting closer to retirement) and with fewer and fewer young people interested in joining the career.
The current academic year started with around 60,000 students without all the teachers assigned and, without measures to combat the problem, the lack of teachers could affect around 250,000 students in 2025, according to an estimate by the statistical portal Pordata.
Among other measures, the ME designed a new system for recruiting and placing teachers, which was also being requested by the unions.
What changes were initially announced by the ME?
Among various measures, the proposals to increase the power of school directors stood out, who would select part of the teachers based on their profile and school projects.
The guardianship proposal also provided for reducing the number of hired teachers, reducing the size of the Pedagogical Zone Boards (QZP) so that teachers would be closer to the schools and increasing the duration of internal competitions from four to five years to increase stability.
What are the most controversial proposals?
The idea of giving directors the possibility to choose part of the team taking into account their profile was, from the beginning, the most criticized proposal.
The unions demanded that the placement of teachers continue to be done exclusively based on professional graduation, which takes into account the final course grade and years of service.
The last proposal foresees this demand, giving directors the power to place teachers to teach in two groups of schools.
But the unions continue to refuse the proposal, claiming that teachers can be placed in two schools that are very far from each other.
What changes have already been partially accepted by the unions?
The internal contests will become annual, after the unions have warned of the possibility of overtaking teachers with less years of service.
The new rules predict that more than ten thousand contractors will join the staff this year, but the unions say that around five thousand will be left out and there may be overtakes.
The country is currently divided into ten Pedagogical Zone Boards (QZP) but will increase to 63.
Contractors, who always received the same salary regardless of the years of service, will now have three levels.
After 1095 days of service (equivalent to three years), the teacher rises to the equivalent of the 2nd step and after another three years he can rise again.
What does it take to reach an agreement?
There are “six red lines” in the placement and recruitment diploma, but in addition, the unions say that the protests will only stop when the guardianship shows openness to negotiate the recovery of about six and a half years of service time that was frozen.
Public Administration careers were frozen for nine years and four months, but the Government only agreed to give teachers back two years and nine months. Teachers now require accounting for the remaining time they worked.
The unions suggest a timetable for the recovery, taking into account the financial weight of the measure.
According to the Ministry of Finance, recovering that time would cost the state coffers around 331 million euros every year.
Another claim is the end of vacancies and quotas for access to the 5th and 7th levels (the career has ten levels), which makes progression much more difficult.
What is the argument of the unions?
Regarding the recovery of service time, the teachers argue that colleagues from Madeira and the Azores saw all the frozen time accounted for and that, therefore, they will not give up the time they worked.
“We don’t stop” is the watchword of the teachers who, since December, have carried out strikes, demonstrations and protests in front of schools.
Will this Thursday end the negotiations?
The negotiating rounds have already ended without an agreement, but the unions have asked for an additional meeting, which will take place this Thursday.
In the end, if the ministry shows openness to new concessions, the negotiations could go on for another 15 days, explained Mário Nogueira this week.
What happens if there is no agreement?
The platform of nine unions asked teachers about forms of struggle, with more than 70% defending the realization of new regional strikes, strikes for the evaluations of the 2nd period of classes and new demonstrations.
However, only on Thursday, after the meeting with the ministry, will the measures be announced in a teachers’ plenary meeting that will take place in the street, in front of the Ministry of Education.