07 December, 2019
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Government scrambles to counter teacher strike

Cabinet approves effort to seek ways in recouping instruction time lost to rolling strike


The government is putting together measures to minimise the impact of a teacher rolling strike, with the education minister saying he is willing to pick things up with the unions from where they were left off at the last handshake.

Facing a 48-hour strike on Tuesday and Wednesday, and other slowdown measures to follow, the government is reaching out to parents groups as well as seeking legal opinions from the attorney general as to possible anti-strike measures.

In a meeting on Thursday, the Cabinet gave the nod to Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris to meet with organised parent groups to coordinate action against announced strike measures but also future union actions during what is understood to be a slowdown during rolling strikes.

Some media reports said hiring unemployed educators and retired teachers was being considered, however challenges remained due to a number of practical considerations

The Cabinet’s education subcommittee also reached out to Attorney General Costas Clerides to seek ways and potential legal tools, according to media reports, in order to “defend the interests of public education as well as those of the children and society at large.”

One possible government measure discussed widely had to do with ways to recoup instruction time lost to strike.

Some media reports said hiring unemployed educators and retired teachers was being considered, however challenges remained due to a number of practical considerations. Namely, proper preparation and the unpredictable nature of such measures were reportedly factors that present a number of operational challenges. 

Dissenters remain quiet

A number of dissenting voices also appeared on social media, as teacher members of unions questioned the logic behind the strike and the potential salary cuts as rolling strikes go forward.

But no action has been announced to break the strike as of Friday morning, with some 96% of educators voting in favour of their union leaders to handle the issue as they see fit.

Hambiaouris said he was ready to honour an agreement reached on September 6 and immediately begin dialogue on a whole host of reform issues, including teacher evaluation, special education, and delinquent behaviour in schools.

But unions have backed out of the deal, calling for a clean slate before they start talking again.

The government says it will not bow down to pressure regarding the realignment of exemptions in instruction time. This is a highly contested topic that the Cabinet introduced back in July, prompting criticism from teachers who mobilised over the summer arguing some of their colleagues would end up losing their jobs.

Cyprus  |  education  |  strike  |  school  |  reform  |  teacher  |  OELMEK  |  POED  |  OLTEK

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