The decision of the university administrative employees to extend their strike for an eleventh consecutive week has had a serious impact on the University of Athens, with the members of the Senate handing over their resignations to Rector Theodosis Pelegrinis. The senate members protested against the government suspension program and the threat of a police invasion and occupation of university grounds.
The Senate requested a meeting with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Government Vice President Evangelos Venizelos and the Minister of Education Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos to discuss the urgent matter and find a solution, but there has been no response. The government and the Ministry of Education maintain that there is nothing to discuss.
The Minister of Education Arvanitopoulos has refused to discuss with the administrative employee unions and has requested from the courts that the strike be declared illegal and abusive, while repeatedly accusing the rectorate for being solely responsible for the looming loss of the academic semester.
Student support and involvement
With the situation getting out of hand, the Ministry believes that the only way to overcome the deadlock is via massive student gatherings outside university buildings, in the hope that the pressure will force the administrative employees to give up. New Democracy’s youth party, DAP, supports this “solution”, but argued that teaching cannot take place under the watch of the police.
On Tuesday morning university administrative employees and students supporting their strike began congregating outside the main university entrances for the Panepistimioupoli campus and the Medical School at about 7am. A couple hours later there was some commotion when a professor was not allowed to enter the building to deliver a lecture.
Meanwhile, students of the Technical University’ School of Civil Engineering decided to end the occupation at the general assembly. The plan is to carry out the exams that were meant to take place in September, so that teaching can begin as soon as possible. As the School of Engineering has a large number of students, this development could affect other student occupations.
Suspension lists «full of mistakes, errors and omissions»
The preliminary publication of the names of administrative employees facing suspension revealed numerous critical errors, as pointed out by the Deputy Rector of the National Technical University of Athens Tonia Moropoulou, who explained that about 30 people who submitted their details as requested were not listed.
The president of the Law School Theodoros Fortsakis called for a reevaluation of the suspension plans. Mr. Fortsakis explained that 13 of the 17 administrative employees in the Law School were to be suspended, meaning that the university cannot operate under those conditions.
Rector Synod demands immediate meeting with PM and Minister
Meanwhile the Rector Synod has demanded an immediate meeting with the Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the Minister of Education Konstantinos Arvanitopoulos “in order to being a discussion to find a solution to the problems that have been created”.
The announcement echoed earlier statements of the Rector of the University of Athens Theodosis Pelegrinis, who argued that “the universities will open so long as the Ministry agrees to a discussion of the serious problems caused by the deadlock”.
Mr. Pelegrinis rejected the possibility of police presence during teaching and apologized to the “biggest losers” , namely the students, from the Ministry’s inflexibility and refusal to discuss the matters at hand.