At least 30,000 Danish teachers have taken to the streets to protest a closure of schools
that has stopped over 800,000 pupils attending classes. They were shut after a dispute over
working hours last week.
Traffic came to a halt in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen on Thursday as thousands of
teachers marched on parliament to demand that schools reopen.
At least 52,000 teachers and an estimated 875,000 students have been kept from attending
classes since a lockout was imposed by municipal employers on April 1 after teachers
rejected planned changes to working conditions.
Under a plan put forward by an organization grouping Denmark’s 98 municipalities, tutors
will be required to spend more time in the classroom and less time on preparatory work.
Teachers argued that the new system would adversely affect educational standards.
“What is going on is just not reasonable,” 27-year-old protester Kamille Soerensen told news
agency AFP. “They are wrecking the schooling system and making our jobs so much more
difficult. This is not what I signed up for.”
With talks between Denmark’s Teachers’ Union and the grouping of local governments at a
deadlock, the nation’s parent’s association has appealed for government invention, saying the
closure has caused childcare problems for many working families.
However the government in Copenhagen has so far resisted calls to step in.
“I’m a parent myself, in fact to several children, so I know how difficult it is each morning
to make things work out. But let me say as I have said all along: I don’t think we should be
talking about considering intervention in the current situation,” Finance Minister Bjarne
Corydon told Denmark’s Ritzau news agency.
Thursday’s demonstration was the biggest Copenhagen has seen since a notorious UN climate
change conference in 2009 attracted some 30,000 activists. It comes in the wake of a number
of mass protests launched by teachers in recent days. Earlier this week 6,000 teachers formed
a 35-kilometer (21.7-mile) protest line along the main road between Copenhagen and eastern
city of Roskilde. Protests have so far remained peaceful.
ccp/msh (AFP, AP)