Teachers Take the Street in Aftermath of Van Earthquakes

Teachers in Van took the street to protest the handling of the aftermath of the two major earthquakes that hit the region in October and November 2011. They drew attention to the still very bad situation of earthquake victims and to the persistent problem of housing. Van –
B?A News Center 

In a demonstration on Sunday (15 January), members of the Education and Science Workers’ Union (E?itim-Sen) branch in Van pointed to the fact that the problems of the aftermath of the earthquakes have not been solved yet. Two major earthquakes hit the city on 23 October and 9 November 2011.
The teachers criticized the Ministry of National Education and demanded the Governor of Van to resign.
The demonstrators walked towards the Van Governorship and carried banners featuring slogans like “The governor is at his mansion, the workers are on the street”, “TL 400 for cattle, TL 300 for teachers” and “Ministry of Victimization”.

The Egitim-Sen members encountered police barricades but insisted on walking in the middle of the street instead of the pedestrian way because the buildings on the roadside might still collapse any time. They continued their demonstration but were not allowed to release their statement in front of the Governor’s Office. Hence, the teachers made their announcement at the Faki Teyran Park.

The press release was read by E?itim-Sen Branch Secretary Mucip Vergili. He said that teachers had been abandoned to their fate after the two earthquakes on 23 October and 9 November.

“The time after the earthquake showed that teachers are among the sections that were affected the most by the earthquakes. We were left in the street because the buildings we lived in were damaged. The salary for additional courses was cut and we were deprived of our right to appointment. We became psychologically drained because we had to go to schools that had not been instrumentally investigated”.

“Looking at our present situation, as teachers we can say that leaving aside an improvement to be made, our conditions have worsened. The unmarried teachers are still suffering from shortcomings at the Barzani container city they are staying, at the TOK? housing and the primary schools that have been turned into dormitories. Unfortunately, we cannot see any efforts to remedy these shortcomings”.

Vergili reminded that the Ministry of Finance planned an additional payment of TL 225-300 to civil servants working in Van. Farmers on the other hand were paid TL 400 for their cattle, Vergili emphasized.

Education was interrupted as the result of damaged school buildings after the quakes. However, in Van the semester break was cancelled, so the teachers became victims once more since on top of everything they had to work during the holiday period.

“As teachers we do not want our students to miss exams. But we need accommodation for teachers and secure classrooms for the students. Prolonging school for 15 days or even a month does not help to eliminate the problems of teachers and students”, the teachers claimed.

The press release was followed by a five-minute sit-down strike.


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