331 million, 800 million, or 1,300 million. After all, how much does it cost to unfreeze teachers’ service time?

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Negotiations between the government and teachers’ unions continue without agreement, there are numbers for all tastes, but, in the end, how much would it cost the budget to fully recover careers?

The negotiations between the Ministry of Education and teachers’ unions on the new model for recruitment and placement of teachers should end this Thursday. The unions admit, however, ask for an additional meeting if there is no agreement.

The “arm wrestling” drags on since September and among the main demands of the unions is the full recovery of the time of service of teachers, so that there is equity with the teachers of the Autonomous Region of Madeira and the Azores. Fenprof, the most representative structure of the education sector, has already assured that is available to discuss a “protocol of legislature with priorities and phases” on the subject, taking into account the financial weight of the measure.

On the Government side, the Minister of Education guaranteed “total availability” to discuss the upgrading of teachers’ careers, while the Prime Minister acknowledged that teachers have accumulated several years of “frustration”, but flatly dismissed this hypothesis, stating that he would have to do the same with the remaining civil service careers. But after all, how much does it cost to unfreeze teachers’ length of service?

Public Administration careers were frozen between 2005 and 2007 and between 2011 and 2017, for a total of nine years and four months. In 2018 and after a heated debate, teachers ended up recovering about two years, nine months and 18 days of service, which represents a permanent expense of 244 million euros annually for state coffers, according to the Minister of Education, the program “Great Interview” RTP. Thus, they are missing about six years and six months.

“If we wanted to give all other careers the equivalent of the six years, six months and 24 days that teachers are demanding, that would cost the country 1,300 million euros of permanent expense every year,” argued António Costa, in an interview on TVI last week.

The Prime Minister’s office clarifies to ECO that at stake are “all careers that were frozen – or almost all – with the exception of the security forces and the armed forces” and signals that “in 2018, was recovered by teachers exactly the same that was recovered by workers in other careers”. “Applying the effects of unfreezing time in the teaching career to all careers would cost the country 1.3 billion euros in permanent expenses every year,” they reiterate.

What is certain is that the discussion is not new. In 2019, PSD, CDS-PP, Bloco de Esquerda and PCP even approved, in the specialty, several amendments to the Government decree-law, aiming to recover all the teachers’ service time.

However, the right backed down after António Costa threatened to resign on the grounds that the costs associated with the law were unaffordable and that no party had included this proposal in its electoral program. At the time the Ministry of Finance, led by Mário Centeno, claimed that counting frozen service time in special careers would cost the state coffers 800 million euros annually, of which 635 million would be just to meet the teachers’ demands.

“As communicated in 2019, the impact, on permanent expenditure, of 800 million euros corresponded to the retroactive accounting of the teachers’ length of service of nine years, four months and two days, as well as in all similar careers,” explains the Prime Minister’s office, in response to ECO. What is certain is that the new accounts diverge from this balance.

According to the Ministry of Finance advanced to Expresso, the recovery of six years, six months and 23 days claimed by teachers would have an impact of 331 million euros per year of permanent expenditure for the state. Adding this figure to the 244 million euros (of the two years and about nine months already recovered), the impact of full recovery of the time of service of teachers would amount to 557 million euros, below the 800 million euros estimated in 2019 by the tutelage led by Mario Centeno.

To the same newspaper, the government justified this divergence of values with the departure of teachers and the number of teachers who are currently at the top of their career.

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