Socialist Worker

Striking teachers defy the law in the US

Issue No. 2593

Teachers on strike in West Virginia

Teachers on strike in West Virginia (Pic: AFT-West Virginia)

Around 20,000 teachers and school workers in all 55 districts of the US state of West Virginia struck on Thursday and Friday of last week over pay and healthcare costs.

Republican governor Jim Justice has signed off a below-inflation 2 percent pay increase starting in July, plus annual rises of 1 percent in the two following years.

On top of this school workers are faced with reduced employer contributions to private health insurance plans alongside rising private healthcare costs.

Teachers in West Virginia are already among the worst paid in the country. “People were stopping to offer support, coffee, doughnuts, stuff all day long,” said Ellen Shepherd, president of the Randolph County Education Association.

This week the strike was extended to Monday. They faced down the state senate president Mitch Carmichael who said, “I think it’s an illegal walkout.”

The state’s laws say that public sector workers are barred from striking and that workers could face prison if they defy back to work orders.

Postal workers fight job cuts in Portugal

Thousands of Portuguese postal workers struck against plans to close post offices and axe jobs last Friday.

This follows two days of walkouts in December after management announced they wanted to sack 800 workers and shut 22 post offices over the next three years. The CTT postal service was privatised in 2014 as part of a financial bailout from the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund.

The EU and bosses are putting pressure on the Labour-type Socialist Party government to abandon its attempts to end austerity.

This has spurred resistance from groups of workers, including in the post and health service.

The strike was called by the four trade unions in the CTT. Workers demonstrated in Lisbon and unions say over 70 percent walked out.

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