Italian teachers have taken their protests against job cuts and the treatment of temporary staff to the education ministry in Rome.
Amid government efforts to save eight billion euros in education over three years, thousands of teachers are without a work contract for the new school year.
One protestor said the government treats non-contracted part-time staff like it treats immigrants: “It sets quotas because it needs casual workers, like slaves it can exploit for a few years without giving them the stability they need to live, without rights or dignity. And then when it doesn’t need you any more it abandons you,” she said.
The education minister has defended the government’s position, saying left-wing governments in the 1980s and 90s are to blame for the current situation by using the education system as a sponge to soak up unemployment.
The socialist opposition is determined to keep up the pressure. Democratic Party leader Dario Franceschini said at a rally in Naples:
“The state is carrying out the biggest mass redundancy plan in Italian history in the sector that needs investment the most: the education of our children.”
The temporary staff have been offered special unemployment benefits but the row looks set to roll over into the start of term in ten days time.