40th Elementary school of Thessaloniki, Greece 40th Elementary school of Thessaloniki, Greece Image by Tilemahos Efthimiadis via Flickr


All levels of Education in Greece are overseen by the Ministry of Education, which exercises centralised control over state schools, by mandating the curriculum, appointing staff and controlling the distribution of funding. The ministry also exercises supervisory control over private schools in Greece.


No end in sight for Greek austerity

From 2009-2013 educational spending has been decreased by 33%, and an additional 14% cut will be implemented in the years to follow until 2016.


Still in 2013 the ministry plans to reduce the number of full-time and substitute teachers by more than 87%. There will be an increase in teaching hours in 2013, an increase in the pupil to teacher ratio, and teachers will be re-routed from previously permanent posts.


According to a recent draft law of the Ministry of Education, pupil performance will be used to evaluate teachers' performance in the class room. This, compounded with the above-stated plans, will inevitably lead to the destruction of teacher working conditions, and ultimately the profession itself.


In 2012, with economic downturn entering its fifth year, Greece faced an unemployment rate of over 21 per cent for all job-seekers, with over half of those aged 15-24 unable to find work in the country. Austerity measures reduced the minimum wage for government workers and resulted in 150,000 people being laid off.


The austerity measures introduced to reign in the budget deficit, and to meet the requirements of the EU-backed bailout, have resulted in nearly 25 per cent cuts in public spending on college education. Since 2009, budgets for Greek higher education have been cut by 23 per cent, meaning no funding was available for basic needs such as heating of educational facilities.


Greek debt crisis expanded:

Eurozone crisis timeline.

Greek bail-out plan explained.





Last modified on Tuesday, 10 June 2014



Thursday, 07 November 2013

The President OLME, one of EI’s Greek affiliates, Kotsifakis Themistoklis, met the Executive Board of the Argentinian teachers’ union CTERA in October. The delegation was led by Stella Maldonado, CTERA’s General Secretary and a member of EI’s Executive Board.

Maldonado spoke of the CTERA’s struggle and determination during the years of unbridled neoliberalism.  That struggle led to important achievements such as the Finance Law, a new National Education Law, and a call to joint negotiations at the national level.  

Mr. Themistoklis analysed the crisis suffered by Greece and other countries in southern Europe such as Spain and Portugal, in face of austerity policies that have led to unemployment and poverty for workers.

 “The education budget has dropped to 2% of GDP, we have schools that are closing,  30% fewer teachers than in 2010 and scientists who are  emigrating”  stated Themistoklis.”  “The government – just like Argentina in the nineties – is using the media to persuade public opinion that the public sector is too big and has to be cut back,” he added.

Friday, 13 September 2013

OLME launched a five–days rolling strike as of September 16th following the decision of the teachers’ general assemblies. At the end of each 5 days strike the teachers’ general assemblies will take stock of the situation and then decide on the course of the strike action.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

The Greek government is planning tough austerity measures which may result in additional suspensions and dismissals of workers in the public sector, mainly in education, health care and municipalities. The suspensions would concern up to 8,200 workers in September alone and 12,500 by the end of December 2013. Additionally, 4,000 public sector workers would face direct dismissal by the end of 2013 and 14,000 by the end of 2014.

Under the European Troika-inspired plans, 2,500 teachers in Greece would be condemned to an eight-month suspension prior to their dismissal. The government’s policy of implementing continuous cuts in education also means that more schools will merge or close during this year.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A multi-bill is expected to pass at the Greek Parliament under which more than 4,000 state employees, including teachers, are facing dismissal this year. EI’s affiliate, the Greek federation of secondary education state school teachers, OLME, has warned that over 2,500 teachers are facing an eight-month suspension on just 75 per cent of their basic statutory salary prior to their dismissal.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

EI and its European organisation, the ETUCE, have expressed solidarity with Greek teachers and their union in their call to maintain their right to strike. EI General Secretary Fred Van Leeuwen has formally asked the Greek Prime Minister Samaras to uphold the civil rights of teachers in the interests of the Greek education system. Greece is facing an unprecedented austerity programme imposed as part of the bailout conditions drawn up by the Troika (International Monetary Fund [IMF], European Commission and European Central Bank). The teachers’ union, OLME, says that the austerity cuts are effectively destroying the welfare state with tragic consequences for education and society as a whole.

Thursday, 04 April 2013

Tuesday, 02 April 2013

Greek Parliament voted to pass the ironically-named "Athena Plan" which will result "in the immediate closure of four universities (ten percent of the remaining 40). These are the University of Central Greece, the University of Western Greece, the International Hellenic University and the University of Western Macedonia. Some 20 percent of Greece’s technical institutions will also be abolished, with a number merged to establish privatized colleges."

Friday, 01 March 2013

EI stands behind one of its Greek affiliates, OLME, as they recently issued a statement in response to the recent adjustments the government has introduced to many education laws. "As a Trade Union movement we declare that we are undertaking all those measures to stop the implementation of teacher and school evaluation, staying true to the decisions of the general assemblies and conferences of our sector. Our collective resistance will cancel both the Government and Troika plans."

Thursday, 07 February 2013

On 7 February, a meeting was held between two EI affiliates, the Greek Federation of Secondary State School Teachers (OLME) and the German Gewerkschaft Erziehung and Wissenschaft(GEW) in Athens, Greece. They held a press conference focused on common problems in the education sector and for teachers in their countries, as well as employees across Europe.

Monday, 09 July 2012

On 9 July 2012, Greece's deputy labour minister resigned following protests, saying that the government was not being aggressive enough in pushing for changes to an unpopular bailout. The minister was the third cabinet member to quit the fledgling coalition in as many weeks.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

12 February 2012 saw violent riots on the streets of Athens; 45 shops were set ablaze and 68 police officers were hospitalised. See photos from the disaster here.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

As of 22 September 2011, the latest round of cuts were to include more wage cuts, a 20 per cent cut in pensions, tax increases for low-income families, and the suspension of 30,000 public service workers on partial pay. Read more here!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

On 17 September 2011, protestors took to the streets of Athens to protest against the latest budget cuts. Outside parliament, students threw CDs towards the building. With the shortage of teachers and textbooks, written material has been handed out on disc instead.

Tuesday, 06 September 2011

As of 6 September 2011, teachers rejected the government’s proposed package of more cuts in education that would include more wage cuts, dismissal of teachers, and privatisation of public services.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

On 29 June 2011, violent clashes occurred between the riot police and protesters as the Greek parliament voted to accept the EU's austerity requirements. The Athens Prosecutor agreed to an investigation into accusations of excessive use of tear gas, as well as the alleged use of other expired and carcinogenic chemical substances. The investigation is currently under way.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

On 25 May 2011, anti-austerity protestors organised by the Direct Democracy Now! Movement, known as the Indignant Citizens Movement (Κίνημα Αγανακτισμένων Πολιτών), started demonstrating in major cities across Greece. This second wave of demonstrations proved different from previous years in that they are non-partisan and began through peaceful means.  Some of the protests later turned violent, particularly in the capital city of Athens. The demonstrations and square sit-ins were officially ended when municipal police removed demonstrators from Thessaloniki's White Tower square on 7 August 2011.


Further information

Facts and data

Union contact

  • Greek Federation of Secondary State School Teachers, OLME
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  • Greek Primary Teachers Federation, DOE
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