The Portuguese government announced in July that around 1,000 public school workers will be considered redundant and will not have their contracts renewed. The move has been rejected widely as it comes just weeks before the beginning of the new academic year, which without a doubt will be filled with more challenges and complications than ever before.
The Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) on August 4, condemned the dismissal of the public school workers. In its statement, the PCP questioned the government’s promotion of redundancies of public school workers, who should have been integrated and regularized by now, but instead will have their contracts lapse. The National Federation of Unions of Workers in Public and Social Functions (FNSTFPS) also carried out a protest against the redundancies in public schools and organized demonstrations in front of the Ministry of Education in the last week of July.
The federation released a statement declaring, “the Government is dismissing more than a thousand non-teaching workers from public schools, with fixed-term employment contracts signed in 2017. Here, once again, the government, for mere reasons of budgetary restraint linked to the municipalization of the Public School, chooses to fire instead of solving the problem, with the recruitment of these workers with an open-ended contract.”
“It must be emphasized that what is at stake is not the legality of the process, but rather the lack of political will for the integration of these workers…The Ministry of Education knew that in August 2020, the term contracts of these workers would expire. But, deliberately, they did nothing in this time to end the precariousness,” added the federation.
Such terminations are taking place in Portugal even though reports highlight an imminent risk of lack of school professionals in the upcoming academic year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As per an article published in Avesso Interior, “there are 12,000 teachers with disease risk who may have to miss classes next school year due to COVID-19. The situation is expected to affect all school groups.”
Members from the PCP had raised the issue of school workers in the last regimental hearing of the legislative session. Legislators from the Left Bloc (BE) also raised concerns about the risks to school professionals, including both teaching and non-teaching staff, in the upcoming school year.