Statement of the plenary coordination meeting of the Students’ Assemblies of the Occupied Universities of Greece
Today, more than 8,000 students took part in a nation-wide protest march in the center of Athens. This demo was called by more than 80 assemblies of local students’ unions and occupied universities. The march demanded the withdrawal of the new governmental measures concerning higher education. The demonstration was followed by a plenary coordination meeting where approximately 1,000 students participated.
The conservative government (party of “New Democracy”) having the support of social-democrats (PASOK), incorporating the directives of the EU promotes a series of anti-popular measures. As far as the employment population is concerned, the government aims at abolishing the 8-hours working day – 40 hours working week. Moreover, it aims at legalizing and spreading flexibility and precarity in the public and the private sector. Furthermore, the government inflicts severe wage cuts for parts of the working population. The governmental policy concerns also the youth.
The government attempts to abolish our right and our vision for permanent and stable employment and to establish uncertainty in our working careers.
These aims are served by the
proposed reform in higher education.
There are 3 pillars in this proposed reform:
- The change in the legislation that regulates university education. This change serves the purpose of transforming the universities into profit-making institutions. The reformed universities will also be more authoritarian for students. According to the proposed changes every student will have the right to fail only up to 2 times in every course and to finish his studies within n+2 years of studying (until now it’s unrestricted). Managing directors and financial managers will take over the administration of universities. Free supplying of compulsory course books will be abolished, social assistance to poor students will be cut down and the students’ participation in the representative boards of the university will be restricted. Moreover, the institution of “University Asylum” (the institution that establishes the right of unrestricted expression and exchange of political views and actions within the borders of the university campuses, including the restriction of police access to the Universities) will be practically abolished.
- The revision of article 16 of the Greek Constitution that establishes the right of every citizen for free, public education. Therefore, private commercial universities will be established and private vocational training institutions will be officially recognized by the state.
- The revitalization of previous legislation regarding ICTS and university evaluation credits in order to introduce the model of life-learning. This model does not offer any qualification that is useful in employment. The introduction of ICTS as well as the recognition of the 3-year bachelors abroad will abolish the universal character of university degrees (and the relevant universal employment qualifications). In this way, every graduate will have his own “individualized” degree without any negotiable power in the labour market.
The aims of the aforementioned changes of the government are:
- The establishment of a new model of employment; the cheap and flexible employment, according to which each worker should be both productive and disciplined to her/his employer. Such a worker will cost less and demand less compensation for his employment and will vision less for his life. She/he will be fully adjusted to the needs of the “free market” and the profit-making of employers. This is achieved by the devaluation of our degrees and the split of the official employment qualifications they offer. It is also achieved by the intensification of the study tempo as well as by the effort to restrain the students’ movement that has raised considerable obstacles in applying the reactionary reforms, during the last years. This way, they want to make us disciplined students today and even more disciplined employees in the near future.
- The abolishment of the free public education, the transformation of universities into profit-making institutions. A major consequence of this will be that young people from the low-income class will be practically excluded from university education.
During the last 2 years the government is trying to implement this reactionary reform, without any kind of negotiations and ignoring the declared opposition of the students. Therefore, the Greek students’ movement has chosen the way of uncompromising struggle and complete opposition against the policy measures of the Ministry of Education, the government as a whole as well as the expressed consensus of the social-democrats (PASOK). The development of our struggle and the continuation of the occupation of the universities is our way to respond to the blackmail of the government. Our struggle will only end when the government withdraws all its proposals about the revision of the relevant legislation and the article 16 of the constitution.
· No change in the relevant legislation regulating higher education. We reject any proposal for time or exam restrictions for students. We reject the abolishment of free supplying of compulsory course books for students. We reject the system of loan-scholarships as well as the hiring of managers by the universities.
· No revision of article 16 of the Constitution. We say “no” to private and profit-making universities.
· We demand the abolishment of all the relevant laws for the evaluation of Universities and the introduction of ICTS. We reject the devaluation-individualization of our degrees and of the employment qualifications they offer.
We struggle for:
- University degrees with full and universal employment qualifications without any individualization.
- Our right for permanent and stable employment with decent earnings and social security. We say “no” to flexible and precarious employment.
- Free public education for everyone. Free housing, food supply and compulsory course books for all students. Increase of public spending for higher education according to the needs of the students.
- Human studying tempo.
· All our fellow students to participate in the student unions’ assemblies, the demonstrations and all the actions of the movement. We call them to materialize their resistance against the policy measures of the government.
· We call to an escalation of the struggle against the government policy. We call all the student unions around the country to call new assemblies and extent the occupation of the universities.
· We call all the student unions of the country to participate in the open coordination meeting of the occupied universities.
· We call the high school students as well as the teachers of primary and secondary education to join us in the struggle against the reactionary policy of the ministry of education.
· We call the part of university scientific stuff that is hit by the governmental policy to support the struggle of the students and support our actions.
· We call the workers unions to support in any possible way the just cause of our struggle.
We call all students around the country to demonstrate in all cities, on Thursday, June 1rst.
The plenary coordination meeting of the student unions assemblies.