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ISSUE 57 page 4

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Teachers’ salaries ‘not attractive’ says Commission
 THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION HAS CONFIRMED WHAT many teachers may feel: that salaries are too low or  ‘not attractive’ in the words of a recent report. As gross annual pay varies enormously between countries, from €84,000 in secondary schools in Luxembourg to less than €10,000 in Bulgaria, the Commission has tried to compare salaries to the gross domestic product of each country divided by the population. By this measure the biggest maximum rates of pay are found in Portugal and Cyprus but teachers here still need to work for more than twenty years to reach the top of the scale. In most countries teachers will not even double their salaries over their working lifetime. The report takes into account allowances that teachers may receive which mean that in Member States such as Denmark,
Teacher Pay Chart
Finland and the UK average salaries are higher than the maximum pay rate. However only half of EU countries award specific allowances for excellence in teaching or further professional qualification. Androulla Vassiliou, commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, responded to the report by saying that teachers ‘are at the heart of the commission's efforts to help member states improve the quality of their education and training systems. We need to encourage the very best graduates to join and stay in the teaching profession. Salaries and working conditions are a priority if we are to attract and keep the best teachers’.




Euro-prison ‘rhetoric’ should support staff say unions
Three Euro-union federations to merge

A COUNCIL OF EUROPE CODE OF ETHICS FOR PRISON staff has been criticised by the European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU). The code lays down 36 recommendations as to the behaviour of prison staff covering such topics as ‘Accountability’, ‘Integrity’ and ‘Respect and Protecction of Human Dignity’ but, according to EPSU, leaves out the increasing workloads and dangers to their health and safety that prison staff are experiencing as austerity measures lead to cuts in provision. EPSU points out that in just two weeks in October a Swedish union member was beaten to death while several French prison workers were shot by an inmate and a Belgian prison officer was kidnapped and injured. They say that the long-term trend of ‘welfare state contraction and imprisonment expansion’ has been made worse by the current public sector cuts. In Greece, the country worse hit by austerity policies, the Korydallos prison, meant for 900 inmates, houses 2,300 and each night warder is responsible for 280; there is one nurse on duty for the whole institution. The federation calls for the Council of Europe to support prison staff and not to place additional pressure on them through ‘rhetoric’. It wants trade unions to be involved in changing the code so that it clearly distinguishes between staff and management responsibilities, provides protection for ‘whistleblowers’ and stressees the rôle of staff training and rights at work.

THREE OF THE EUROPEAN TRADE UNION FEDERATIONS which represent members working in the manufacturing sector across Europe are to merge. The European Mine, Chemical and Energy Workers' Federation  (EMCEF), European Metalworkers' Federation (EMF), and the Textiles, Clothing and Leather federation (ETUF-TCL) currently make up one quarter of the twelve affiliates to the ETUC. As the structure of the industries in which they operate has changed, the organisations have found themselves co-operating more and more and this, together with mergers among national unions affiliated to them, has persuaded  the federations that they will achieve greater influence and more efficient use of resources together. The three  represent a total of eight million members spread among 263 national unions although several such as the UK’ s Unite and GMB are affiliated to more than one federation.  As well as more clout with EU institutions and the ETUC, the merged body will have a global impact as the reorganisation will be mirrored at the World level. With fifty million workers in 140 countries the new global federation will hope to create ‘a powerful counterweight to transnational companies by uniting the workers in networks for solidarity and joint action’.

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