• France's news in English
French teachers strike to defend four-day week
File photo of a school that remained closed in Paris last month as teachers protested over an extension to the working week. Photo: The Local.

French teachers strike to defend four-day week

Dan MacGuill · 12 Feb 2013, 11:01

Published: 12 Feb 2013 11:01 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Classrooms were closed across France, as teachers angry over government plans to open schools for an extra half a day a week, staged a nationwide walk out.

Unions claim 60 percent of teachers have taken part in the strike but the Ministry of Education says the figure is more like 36.8 percent. 

Tuesday's strike follows similar action taken by teachers in Paris last month.

Education minister Vincent Peillon has angered the teaching profession in France by proposing to extend the school timetable by half a day each week from September 2013.

Teachers are concerned the extra half day will simply add to their already overburdened workload and is being rushed through before members of staff can be recruited.

Currently in France primary schools are closed on Wednesdays but the socialist government wants children to start attending classes on Wednesday morning in the future for 'extra-curricular activities'. In return the length of the full teaching day will be slightly shortened.

“We need to inform the French people that one week of 4.5 days is better for learning than 4 days of more than five hours of classes,” the education minister told Le Parisien. “It will allow children to undertake more sporting and cultural activities.

“We cannot continue to be the only country in the world where our students attend school only 144 days a year,” Peillon added.

Schools shut or operating 'minimum service'

In the capital, where 70 percent of teachers reportedly joined Tuesday's walk-out, 229 schools were closed today.  Another 570 schools, which were without 25 percent or more of their usual staff were operating on a "minimum service" according to French daily Le Parisien.

The minimum service , known as the SMA (service minimum d’acceuil) is a legal requirement by local authorities to hire substitute teachers or child-care professionals to cover  when 25 percent or more teachers are on strike.

The law, introduced in 2008, is intended to allow a bare minimum of certain public services – in education, public transport or healthcare.

However, some view SMA as a breach of France’s constitutional right to strike, and many mayors have refused to put in place a back-up plan.

Story continues below…

“This law is scandalous,” said Pierre Bosino, communist mayor of Montataire in northern France. “If teachers go on strike, it’s to defend our children’s education, and everyone must be in solidarity,” he told Le Parisien.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available