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Street protest against job cuts

AUSTRIA: Teachers are stepping up action against plans by the far-right coalition government to cut thousands of jobs at schools across the country and worsen the teacher: pupil ratio.

The cutbacks are part of wide-ranging reforms to reduce the spiralling budget deficit, but teachers say the job losses will have a devastating effect on the quality of education because secondary class sizes will rise from 25 to 30 pupils and primary classes from 19 to 22 or 23.

Last week, 4,000 teachers gathered outside St Stephen's Cathedal in Vienna to demand a climbdown over the plans for larger classes that they say will also mean fewer teachers.

This protest was called by the Platform for Education Quality, an organisation which is made up primarily of parentteacher representatives, and followed nationwide demonstrations last month.

The government has refused to say if the job losses are as great as parentteacher groups predict. One Austrian teaching union has already voted in favour of strike action if the cuts go ahead.

Mike Leidig

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