GREECE: Academics and students on the warpath

First to enter the fray – the Panhellenic Federation of University Lecturers with two 24-hour strikes on 1 and 13 February (designated as Labour Day by the trade unions); followed by the Technological Institutes with a 24-hour strike this week and a 48-hour stop-work on 14 and 15 February.

After the strikes, the situation will be reassessed and further industrial action could take place if the government does not give definite answers to the demands of the sector. The timing of these stoppages is crucial, calculated as they are to take place during the examination period for maximum impact. Many students are already worried that they may lose the semester as a result.

But the declared intention of the academic community is that any attempt by the government to legalise the liberal studies centres and upgrade them to full university status will be regarded as a 'casus belli'.

Legalisation of the centres has been seen as the first step towards the privatisation of education. There are calls to exhibit the same determination and fighting spirit as was shown against the reform of article 16 of the Constitution last summer.

Although opposition to the centres is the spearhead of the campaign against the government's policies, academics will also state a number of other demands, including salary increases, insurance and pension rights, as well as raising the level of state-funding for education.