30,000 Protest in Copenhagen over Teacher Reform
Traffic in Denmark's capital Copenhagen was in chaos Thursday as some 30,000 demonstrators marched on parliament from four different points to complain about a teacher lockout by schools that has left 800,000 pupils without classes.
"What is going on is just not reasonable," 27-year-old Kamille Soerensen told Agence France Presse.
"They are wrecking the schooling system and making our jobs so much more difficult. This is not what I signed up for," said the young teacher who bore a sign on her back reading 'I'm locked out'.
Soerensen is one of some 60,000 national school teachers countrywide who have been locked out by municipal employers since April 1 in a dispute over changes in teacher working conditions that will require educators to spend more time in class and less time on preparation.
Negotiations between the Teachers' Union and the grouping of local governments that runs the schools broke down in late March after several weeks of acrimonious talks.
Thursday's demonstration was the latest of days of mass protests, and the biggest the Danish capital has seen since a 2009 U.N. climate change conference.
Denmark's three-party, Social Democrat-led coalition is currently preparing an educational reform that will require teachers and children to spend longer hours at school, in what is being labelled an 'All-in Schoolday'.
Teachers claim that the new system is unreasonable and will affect educational standards.
With the dispute in deadlock, most organisations are expecting the government to intervene.
But Finance Minister Bjarne Corydon says he is not preparing any intervention.
"I'm a parent myself, in fact to several children, so I know how difficult it is each morning to make things work out. But let me say as I have said all along: I don't think we should be talking about considering intervention in the current situation," Corydon told the Ritzau news agency.
Copenhagen police said it was not expecting any trouble during the demonstration, which was due to culminate at the parliament with speeches by union leaders.