Strike against 25% of classes in Spanish: pickets at universities and political division in Parliament
JxCat and CUP stand ERC up at rally in defence of Catalan in schools
BarcelonaThe strike called today in schools in protest against the High Court ruling forcing 25% of classes to be in Spanish has begun by causing a stir. On the one hand, groups of students who wanted to attend class have faced pickets which since the early morning have blocked access to the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona's Bellaterra campus. On the other hand, JxCat and CUP have stood ERC up in the joint event which aimed to show a certain political unity in defence of the use of Catalan in the classroom.
In fact, the controversy broke out yesterday, when the Catalan Education minister Josep Gonzàlez-Cambray announced that the Government would join the protest through an action in support of the Catalan school model in Parliament. According to Cambray, it cannot be said that the administration has been "passive" in the defence of Catalan, because the Catalan Government and his department, he said, have given "political and legal" coverage to teachers in the face of the ruling. But unions have not taken kindly to the fact that the Government is also participating in the mobilisation, because they consider it is an attempt to co-opt the strike. In a joint statement, the organisations that had called the strike (USTEC, Intersindical, COS, SEPC, Sindicat d'Estudiants and AEP) have criticised both the ruling and the government response, which shows, they say, "cowardice and incapacity" to defend Catalan in schools and also "submission before Spanish institutions". In addition, they also say that the Department of Education's new curriculum "literally threatens to liquidate linguistic immersion with the excuse of flexibility to adapt to schools' social environment".
In this context, the event in Parliament again showed the distance between coalition partners. Only ERC ministers and MPs turned alongside president Pere Aragonès to show the rejection of the High Court ruling, according to Núria Orriols and Quim Bertomeu. The only member of JxCat who took part was Health Minister Josep Maria Argimon. En Comú and CUP did not take part in the event either. JxCat sources explain that the protest had not been agreed and that is why they have only sent one representative. The CUP have argued that they will take part "in the mobilisations, together with the educational community". "We will not allow the Government to wash its face with more propaganda while it turns its back on the demands of the educational sector and abandons schools in defence of linguistic immersion," the anti-capitalist party said in a brief statement.
During the plenary, Aragonès also closed ranks with Cambray, against whom unions have called several days of industrial action this month. "I will not dismiss him, I maintain my confidence in him," he replied to the CUP, which has called on the president to accept the the workers' strike committee's demands: withdrawal of the new curriculum decree, modification of the school calendar, salary equalization between secondary school teachers and vocational training, as well as a "100% public" education.