Palma.—Jaume Sastre began his hunger strike on 8 May and his campaign has attracted nationwide attention and now his supporters intend to take his plight overseas by writing to UNESCO to explain why Sastre is on hunger strike and that he has the backing of the majority of teachers in the Balearics.

Sastre decided to go on hunger strike in protest over the government’s refusal to negotiate a solution to the dispute over the government’s TIL trilingual teaching programme with teachers.

The programme of teaching classes in Spanish, Catalan and English should have been introduced last September but teachers, on the grounds that they were not sufficiently prepared to teach subjects in English, went on strike for the best part of a month until the government backed down and gave them more time to improve their English and teaching skills.

However, the majority of teachers are still opposed to the trilingual teaching model which has been drawn up by the Balearic Government but the authorities are refusing to negotiate a satisfactory solution with teachers. The letter to UNSECO entitled "let’s end the hunger strike and the educational conflict" was posted earlier this week and yesterday, under the slogan "our education systems is going backwards", protests were staged at schools across the region and demonstrators marched through Palma yesterday evening.

Opposition parties

Not only has Sastre received the widespread support of fellow teachers, he also has the backing of the opposition parties.

The spokesperson for the PSOE Socialist Party, Francina Armengol, has called on the President of the Balearics, Jose Ramon Bauza, to sit down with the teachers and reach a solution to the on going conflict which, she claims, is having a negative effect on the quality of education in the region.

"It is disgraceful that someone has to go on hunger strike in order to be heard," she said.

"We need dialogue and consensus to resolve this dispute," she said.

"What we don’t need are fights and tension, but that is what Bauza proposes day after day," she added.

"I can’t believe that in a democratic country, a president has not got five minutes to meet with the education community," Armengol said.

The spokesperson for the eco-nationalist party MES, Biel Barcelo, said that he can not understand Bauza’s ideology and said that the Minister for Education, Joana Maria Campos is not capable of doing her job.

"She is useless," he said.

And even the hotel sector has called on Bauza to resolve the dispute and bring an end to Sastre’s hunger strike.

They fear that should the campaign go global, which is what his supporters are trying to do, it could damage the region’s image.

The vice president of the Majorcan Hotel Federation, Inma Benito, said that the dispute has got to be resolved and stop this politicising of education because it is important that the TIL model is introduced properly for the benefit of the teachers and the students.