“It really is a shame the state this has reached. But this time, teachers will not lose the fight. Teachers will win and will not let themselves be sullied”, said Marco Gonçalves, a teacher in the Algarve capital.
The teachers' strike by districts, promoted by nine union structures, started on January 16th and will end on February 8th.
After a demonstration in front of the Municipal Market of Faro, the thousand teachers, and educators, according to the estimation of the local police authorities, went to the Regional Directorate of Education, a journey of about two kilometres.
Marco Gonçalves, 52, a teacher on the board, regretted having his career 'frozen' for years. “With the years of service I have, I should be in the 8th or 9th step out of 10, but at the moment I am in the 4th step. The issue is not even getting to the top, the problem is that most will stay mid-career, which means a retirement much lower than expected, ”he stressed.
After having attended “the same course as José Mourinho” – at the Faculty of Human Motricity, in Lisbon –, the teacher reminded Lusa how different professional expectations were, three decades ago.
“At the time, I opted for teaching because I thought it was safe, with the expectation of growing throughout my career. If it was today I wouldn't have done it. Right now, given the current cost of living, my salary, 30 years later, is lower than at the beginning of my career”, he declared.
Coming from Silves, Ricardo Cunha, 35 years old, born in Felgueiras, in the district of Porto, told Lusa how his professional career includes periods at 17 schools in the space of 13 years.
“I came to the Algarve two years ago, following the rule of thumb, to join at the end of the third year. But with the rules that are being proposed, I can only be linked to the area where I am teaching, I cannot apply for vacancies close to my residence. It is an injustice that this option has a consequence for my whole life, in a blind system that does not give me the chance to choose what I am entitled to, "he maintained.
Underlining that “the lack of teachers” in the Algarve is immense and “there are students without teachers for a long time, without classes in various subjects”, the teacher said that the measures on the table “will not solve anything”.
When he arrived in the region, he had to stay in a 'hostel' before finding a house. “We continue to pay for the house we have in the north, we continue to have family in the north that we want to visit. These are added expenses, which in the Algarve are hampered by very high rents or because we are evicted in June so that this accommodation can be used for tourism”, he highlighted.
The vice-president of the Union of Teachers of the South Zone, Ana Simões, told journalists that adherence to the strike in the district of Faro is around 95 percent.