A teacher who is part of the group and who preferred to remain anonymous, told Lusa this Thursday that the measure is irregular, because the new manager refers those targeted to a cooperative that “is closing”.
"It is an irregular dismissal with the gravity that it sends us to a cooperative that is currently closing down. At this moment the new cooperative has not yet assumed functions and the old one has disappeared", she said.
The EPL, created in the 1980s, was until 2021 managed by the Cooperativa Portuguesa de Ensino em Angola (CPEA), but from 7 September 2021 it was 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.
For the Portuguese ambassador in Luanda, Francisco Alegre Duarte, this is essentially a legal issue.
The diplomat added that with the transfer of the CPEA administration to the Portuguese State "there was no transfer of the teachers' employment relationship", which means that in order to continue teaching, the teachers had to sign a new contract.
"This is what happened to the overwhelming majority of teachers, including some who decided to challenge the decision in court," Francisco Alegre Duarte told Lusa, adding that more than 100 teachers were at stake.
"There were meetings and clarification sessions, in which information about the non-transferability of the bond was transmitted, and the overwhelming majority of teachers signed [the new contracts]", said the Portuguese State representative.
According to the teacher heard by Lusa, after the contract ended on September 6, 2021, the following day, September 7, the teachers were faced with the signing of an ACIP (Public Interest Transfer Agreement).
"The cooperative ceded us, in the public interest, to the Ministry of Education. At the time we signed the ACIP, we were not given time or the possibility to contact a lawyer", she commented.
"We were even told that if we wanted to continue working in this school year, which is ending, we would have to sign or if we didn't, then we had no work", she stressed.
"People signed without knowing exactly what they were signing," she said.
For the teacher, a member of the group of 15 professors on leave, the signed ACIP "is coated with some illegality", since "people had no way of informing themselves about it".
"By this time, the ministry should have taken over everything, because deep down it already supervised the school, but that did not happen", she regretted.
Months after the end of ACIP, on 31 August, he continued, a meeting was held with the provisional commission, which is managing the school.
"To let us know that they would continue to run the school and to tell us that our contractual conditions would change," she reported.
"Annual contracts would be made, we would lose remuneration and career progression. When they did that, they did it verbally, we didn't have any documents to be able to hold us and take legal action", she noted.
Months later, he added, the teachers were "confronted with an e-mail, from the provisional commission, reporting a termination draft with the cooperative", indicating that they would have to fill it in if they wanted to continue working.
"And our employment contract, which would be annual, although many were already effective, this to my knowledge, violates the labor law both in Angola and in Portugal", she said.
A conciliation attempt, with the Public Ministry, failed and the promoters of the attempted agreement were removed.
"The targeted teachers are the backbone of the school, we are talking about teachers who have been there for 30 years, they are destroying the backbone of the school", concluded the teacher.
The Escola Portuguesa de Luanda - Portuguese Language and Teaching Center was created under the protocol relating to the Portuguese Language and Teaching Center of Luanda, signed between the governments of Portugal and Angola, having been formally constituted in 2006.
The termination of the CPEA's functions culminates a series of episodes that opposed a group of cooperators and the EPL's management. In 2020, around 300 CPEA cooperators signed a request defending the holding of an extraordinary general meeting to discuss the revision of the statutes and proposed the dismissal of the current governing bodies of the cooperative and the appointment of an interim management committee.
At the time, the CPEA rejected the accusations, claiming that it was an attempt to seize power and justified the increases imposed in the 2020/2021 academic year with the need to ensure the school's survival.
Despite the current labor conflict, Francisco Alegre Duarte considered that it is "a new beginning" and that "conditions are in place for a peaceful start to the school year", praising the management of Eduardo Fernandes [president of the Provisional Administrative Commission] who "has been beneficial" for the EPL, ensuring an "excellent level of teaching quality" and stabilizing the financial situation
"The transition from the management of the CPEA to the management of the Portuguese State was successful and stabilized the institution", stressed the diplomat.