French teachers strike to protest government’s handling of pandemic

Paris, Jan 13 (EFE).- School teachers across France were striking on Thursday to protest the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The action is backed by French teaching unions as well as the largest parents’ organisation, and could see half the country’s schools closed.

Authorities have prioritized keeping schools open, despite a massive surge of infections over the past month.

“It is a strike against the lack of consultation” with the school, the secretary general of the teachers’ union CFDT, Laurent Berger, told France Info radio station.

Some 62% of secondary school teachers and 75% in primary schools have joined the strike, according to different unions.

Teachers and parents of students are protesting in rallies across France.

They are angry at what they see as overly complicated health protocols that are constantly being modified.

On Monday the government announced the latest update to the regulations, which allows more flexibility to avoid shutting classrooms after a positive case is confirmed.

Otherwise, “in a few days all classes in France would be closed,” prime minister Jean Castex explained.

But the move has been widely rejected by teachers and parents of pupils, who say they are “fed up” with having to carry out daily tests on children, especially younger ones.

“A despair caused by working conditions that are deteriorating even more with the huge mess created by the different health protocols but also by the contempt and the permanent lies of the Minister of Education,” a statement by SNUipp-FSU, the largest teaching union, said.

The French senate on Thursday, meanwhile, approved a Covid-19 vaccination pass that will be required to enter most public spaces, including bars and restaurants.

The new rules mean that a recent negative coronavirus test will no longer be valid, with only those who have been fully vaccinated or recently recovered allowed entry. EFE


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