The president has weighed in on the ongoing debate between the government and state educators in a last ditch effort to avoid a bumpy start of the school year.
On Thursday, teacher representatives from OELMEK, POED, and OLTEK unions met with President Nicos Anastasiades and Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris, a meeting that took several hours according to media reports.
Anastasiades, who had intervened once before on the same issue, submitted a new proposal, reportedly aimed at finding common ground primarily to ensure a smooth start of the school year.
But the meeting came following a serious dead-end during talks between the minister and the unions, in which the government attempted to introduce measures on budgeting instructional hours in the classroom.
It is not clear whether the core issue of budgeting hours will be taken off the table, as teachers have demanded, before school starts
Teachers have accused the government of trying to cut the budget and ignoring a host of other problems, such as temporary assignments, adult education classes, and early retirement.
But the government said there were no plans to cut the overall budget, except to move money around in order to pay teachers for their instructional time and save up for other activities, such as dealing with student delinquency, managing school safety, and addressing health issues.
Addtional reform issues up for discussion include teacher evaluations and professional development for educators.
Hambiaouris said in recent letters to the unions in July and August that a number of issues could be discussed but the minister questioned whether specific union proposals could offer realistic alternatives in the short timeframe ahead of first day of classes in September.
Media observers called the president’s latest proposal a last ditch effort and union members were expected to discuss it before the week is out.
Earlier this week, union teachers responded to the minister with their own letter, offering what they described as realistic alternatives and had asked him to relay the content to the president.
Knews understands that teachers presented counterproposals to the latest measures outlined by the minister, while the government in response is trying to identify a timeframe to hold those discussions.
But it is not clear whether the core issue of budgeting hours will be taken off the table, as teachers have demanded, before school starts.
Unions previously accused the minister of not respecting the dialogue process and had threatened to resume labour action, including strikes, if they felt their voice was not being heard.