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Court orders the seizure of accounts of the Escola Portuguesa de Luanda. Portuguese government will frame teachers

The district court of Belas ordered the seizure of the accounts of the Escola Portuguesa de Luanda (EPL) to pay a debt associated with the sentence that, last year, ruled in favor of teachers who maintain a labor dispute with the EPL. Following this decision, the Ministry of Education, Science and Innovation (Portugal) said it was analyzing ways to accommodate teachers at the Portuguese School of Luanda and comply with the court's decisions on a labor conflict that led to the freezing of the institution's accounts.

: Pedro Magalhães/Lusa
Pedro Magalhães/Lusa  

According to the court decision to which Lusa had access, dated March 15, the bank accounts held by the EPL and the Cooperativa Portuguesa de Ensino em Angola (CPEA), the entity that managed the School before the guardianship will be taken over by the Ministry of Education.

The decision was carried out last Thursday, according to a source linked to the process.

At stake are values ​​relating to salary adjustments from September 2022 to April this year, as the EPL, after being ordered to proceed with the "assumption of the rights and obligations" of the initial employment contracts, did not comply with the sentence.

The amount is currently around 200 million kwanzas (215 thousand euros) which, according to the same source, increases every month if the school does not pay in accordance with the terms of the sentence.

In the order consulted by Lusa, the Court of Belas determines that banking institutions seize the accounts and inform the court about the amount seized within ten days.

The EPL has a period of five days to oppose the judicial execution.

Lusa unsuccessfully contacted the EPL management and sent questions to the Ministry of Education, Science and Innovation, and is awaiting answers.

The Portuguese Minister of Education, Science and Innovation was in Luanda last week, but the visit was not made known to the press, having been publicized at the end through the social networks of the Camões Institute in Angola.

Fernando Alexandre met with his counterpart Luísa Grilo, with whom he discussed "various themes on the common agenda of cooperation between Portugal and Angola in the education sector", as well as new areas of bilateral cooperation, such as digital schools.

The Portuguese minister also visited EPL, an educational establishment attended by more than 2,100 students, and it is unknown whether he addressed the conflict with the school management.

In July last year, the ten EPL teachers who complained about "irregular dismissal" and subsequent signing of an "illegal" agreement, saw the court rule in their favor, condemning the institution to assume the rights and obligations of the initial employment contracts and to "link the legal-labor relationship with the applicants under the Angolan legal system".

The Ministry of Education, Science and Innovation (Portugal) is analyzing ways to accommodate teachers at the Escola Portuguesa de Luanda and comply with the court's decisions on a labor conflict that led to the freezing of the institution's accounts.

In a response sent this Sunday to the Lusa agency, the ministry blames the previous Government for not having taken measures to reach an agreement with the teachers and avoid litigation in court, remembering that the situation has been dragging on since 2022.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Innovation (MECI) also said that "it is analyzing how to comply with the Court's decision, safeguarding the interests of the Portuguese State".

In response to Lusa, the Portuguese Government said that "it is preparing the necessary legal framework to allow the integration of EPL teachers into the Portuguese career, through the launch of a competition".

The Portuguese minister of supervision, Fernando Alexandre, was in Luanda last week "to find out the details of this situation" and find a solution in consensus with the school management and teachers, "recognizing the importance of the EPL and the possible negative consequences of the existing conflict for its proper functioning", adds the MECI press office.

The EPL, created in the 1980s, was until 2021 managed by the Cooperativa Portuguesa de Ensino em Angola (CPEA), but from September 7, 2021 it began to be managed by the Portuguese Ministry of Education, after a dispute with some cooperators.

The Portuguese Ministry of Education had supervised the institution since 2006, although the school was managed by a private entity that had a management contract with the State.

When CPEA administration was transferred to the Portuguese State, there was no transfer of the teachers' employment relationship and in order to continue teaching, teachers had to sign a new contract, but lost benefits and remuneration, which the majority accepted.

However, ten teachers decided to go to court in 2022.

According to the court's decision, "the Portuguese Ministry of Education, upon assuming the management" of the school itself, "should assume the position of the Portuguese Education Cooperative in Angola, in relation to employment contracts with the applicants, maintaining seniority and rights acquired and undergoing training at the service of the previous employer".

The Escola Portuguesa de Luanda – Centro de Ensino e Língua Portuguesa was created under the protocol relating to the Centro de Ensino e Língua Portuguesa de Luanda, signed between the governments of Portugal and Angola, having been formally established in 2006.

The termination of CPEA's functions culminated a series of conflicts between a group of cooperators and the EPL leadership.

In 2020, around 300 CPEA cooperators signed a request defending the holding of an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the review of the statutes and proposed the dismissal of the cooperative's current governing bodies and the appointment of an interim management committee.

CPEA rejected the accusations at the time, claiming that an attempt to seize power was involved and justified the increases imposed in the 2020/2021 academic year with the need to ensure the survival of the school.


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