Special status of teachers and educational workers: Dialogue of the deaf between the ministry and trade unions in the sector

During his visit to Tizi Ouzou Vilayet on Thursday, the Minister of National Education, Abdelhakim Belaabed, confirmed that the new version of the special status project “will bring many benefits to teachers”. Dissatisfied with the ministry's approach, which would not involve them sufficiently in the creation of the final version of this project, the four unions appeal to President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

The development of the special status of teachers and educational workers has caused controversy. This is about access. While the first calls for a “serious dialogue” to enrich this text, the second defends the version he prepared. Real dialogue of the deaf. Minister of National Education Abdelhakim Belaabed, who has been questioned by unions for several weeks, apparently stands by his version.

Visiting the Tizi Ouzou Villa on Thursday, he confirmed that the project “specifically envisages improving the classification of teachers into three levels, reducing hourly wages and exempting primary school teachers from non-teaching duties so that they can devote themselves to their educational mission.” “This new version will bring many advantages for teachers,” he declares. This is not the opinion of various trade union organizations, which are already calling for the “intervention of the head of state” to improve the situation.

In a joint press release, published last Wednesday, the four unions, namely Cnapeste, Snapest, CLA and Madjel, condemned the “opaque method” of the Minister of Education, which reinforces the fears of unions and teachers.

“The method adopted by the Ministry of National Education in drafting the special status for teachers in that sector and its refusal to provide the unions with a hard copy, as agreed at the meeting on October 25, 2021,” we read in this statement, which recalls the instructions of the head of state during the Council of Ministers of December 24 on the need to enrich special statutes before their adoption.

“The minister responsible for the implementation of the decisions of the Council of Ministers from December 24, which refer to the amendment of the text before it is submitted to the competent committee for certification, did not comply with his obligations. The Minister of Education also did not respect the commitment given to all trade unions in the sector and the instructions of the President of the State.

Instead of including trade unions in enriching the text, he opted for confidentiality. This attitude only reinforces our fears of a possible decline in the social achievements of teachers, especially in terms of assignments and grade classification,” the document added.

At the same time, the signatories request “a copy of the document that was presented to the Council of Ministers”, and “the inclusion of the trade union in the entire process of reviewing the status of teachers”. “The future text must not call into question the material, moral, economic and social achievements of teachers”, they warn, calling for a “revision of the remuneration system with the participation of all social partners”.

“Compensation system: another headache”

“Reviewing the special status of teachers is one of the union's main demands. It requires a serious and in-depth dialogue with the real participation of the social partners, because the resulting injustices will not be compensated by the compensation system.

The latter does not replace the special status, but complements it”, emphasize the four unions that call for the mobilization of their bases, by holding general assemblies.

In addition to these four organizations, the Autonomous Union of Workers in Education and Training (Satef) also spoke to reiterate the demands of civil servants in the sector. In a press release issued last week, he condemned the “disguised closing of channels of dialogue at the central and local levels”.

“All channels of dialogue and consultation with social partners have been closed for two years. During this period, the Ministry of Education did not hold any working meetings with the trade unions, except for invitations to official events or open days,” laments Satef.

For this union, “the supervisory body makes decisions unilaterally on issues that require discussions and dialogue, including a special status and compensation regime that will be announced at the beginning of this February, according to official press releases”.

At the same time, Satef calls for a “revision of the salary scale by increasing the value of the index point, and not just by increasing the number of points”.

“We also demand an upward revision of fees and bonuses, according to a global approach that guarantees serious treatment of the decline in purchasing power, in order to guarantee a dignified life for workers and civil servants”, they point out from this union, which also demands a revision of the laws on trade union activity and the right to strike.

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