New law removes RE teachers from bishops' fiefdom

16th December 2005 at 00:00
Spain. Spanish religious education teachers can no longer be sacked by the Roman Catholic Church for their extracurricular behaviour, under a new law passed by the Spanish congress.

Until now, RE teachers, whether they taught in private or state schools, were at the mercy of their local bishopric, which had the right to hire them and terminate their contracts, even though they were employed and paid by the government. In recent years scores of appeals have been heard in courts around the country brought by teachers complaining of unfair dismissal that had nothing to do with how they did their jobs.

One teacher lost his job for getting married in a civil ceremony, another for not attending mass regularly. A third was sacked for participating in a perfectly legal strike against the school, along with his colleagues.

Scores of similar cases are awaiting hearings, including five in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

RE teachers will now fall under the protection of the workers' statute.

They will be hired according to "objective criteria of equality and merit"

and their contracts will be automatically renewed at the end of every year without the church being able to dismiss them if it sees fit. In effect, they will no longer be employed by the church, but by the state.

Luis Guridi, the vice-president of FEPER, the union representing RE teachers, said: "With this new law the constant stress and instability about the ever-possible and arbitrary loss of their livelihood will no longer be the lot of the RE teacher."

The new law is the latest in a series of moves by Jose Luis Zapatero's socialist government to reduce the power of the church in state education in Spain. Last month the socialists overturned a law making religious education compulsory.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now