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Balloons against legalized injustice2009-02-19 09:40
On February 17 a few dozen Georgian teachers came out to Georgian president's home in Avlabar with their eyes bandaged holding pink balloons in their hands. They were forced to "a theatrical show" by Mikheil Saakashvili's phrase from his recent report to the parliament: "We have managed to legalize justice in the system of education".
"In his report President said that teachers had no problems. But it is not true, and we decided to tell President about our problems, if he is unaware of them", - the Free Trade Union of Teachers and Scientists PR manager Nino Tarkhnishvili specified the purpose of the action to GeorigiaTimes observer.
Today the most painful problems of the Georgian teachers are groundless collective dismissals, short-term labor contracts and introduction of "integrated education".
As Nino Tarkhnishvili said, recently by whim of the director of Tbilisi school №49 eleven teachers had lost their jobs. A similar case took place in a school of Gory district where 15 teachers had been given the key of the street in the middle of the crisis. There are incidents in other educational institutions. Teachers refer to the Free Trade Union for help and now there are several claims in Georgian courts with demands to rehabilitate the dismissed.
The way to employers' despotism was cleared by a number of amendments to the Labor Code of Georgia adopted in 2006. The new version of article 37 of the code enables an employer to terminate the labor contract with an employee within a day without explanation of reasons paying a monthly salary as compensation. Now the directors have full liberty to dismiss even the teachers that are merited and respected by their colleagues. As the Trade Union PR manager suggested in her interview with GeorgiaTimes observer they offer vacancies to their acquaintances.
Another urgent problem is a one-year labor contract for teachers common in Georgia. Speaking to the parliament Saakashvili stated that the problem had already been solved, as the trade union leaders noted. In reality, Tarkhnishvili underlines, nothing has changed, and teachers can't be sure of their future.
And finally there is the third reason arousing concern among the teachers - integration of the Georgian education into the pan-European system. In compliance with it teachers undergo annual certification; school leavers take a Unified National Exam. Complete replacement of old curricula and courses is being done. Many of these innovations are not welcomed by the teachers' community.
This time Georgian teachers did not even demand salary increase. "Though this problem is always urgent now they have a different task: not to lose their jobs at all. And it is a minor issue what salary they will get", - GeorgiaTimes interviewee explained.
However the extraordinary "theatrical show" was neglected by the authorities. Nobody came out from the presidential palace to greet the protesting teachers. They hung their posters on the fence, fixed balloons on them and went away ...but problems remain.