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30 September, 2023
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Teacher demo forces eleventh hour debate

Government favours middle-of-the-road measures through December 2018


The government is contemplating a suggestion that would allow proposed education measures to take hold but only through the end of the calendar year, in exchange of labour peace and talks with the teachers unions.

Following a massive demonstration on Tuesday, where organised teachers marched to the Presidential Palace to protest new government measures, there were attempts made by all sides and political parties to reach a compromising solution.

Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris said his door was open for dialogue on a full range of issues, while reiterating that the specific measures should go forward as proposed last week for the school year 2018-2019.

The government then called on the unions for further dialogue on 16 points in an effort to diffuse the situation.

But on Wednesday, ruling party Disy leader Averof Neophytou proposed that the government go forward with the measures only until the end of 2018, in exchange of unions calling off any strikes and coming back to the negotiating table for comprehensive talks.

In a nutshell, the latest proposal tabled by President Nicos Anastasiades on August 23, included a watered-down version of a Cabinet decision back in July.

Anastasiades essentially called for exemption of one instead of two hours for class supervisors to carry out non-teaching tasks. At the same time they wouldn’t have to bother with menial tasks such as keeping an absence log, which would be assigned to school secretaries under the new plan.

Union leaders, with the exception of the two top executives in each of the three unions, would lose their fully-paid teaching exemptions. This essentially means that the president and secretary of each union would still have a full schedule to conduct union business during school time, with normal pay and no teaching duties.

Government says no to withdrawing all measures

Another proposal to reach compromise was tabled by opposition parties, essentially calling on the government to withdraw the measures altogether and enter a new dialogue for the academic year 2019-2020.

The government rejected the plan, saying schools wouldn’t be able to function properly if the measures didn’t go through this September.

The minister argues that more teachers are being hired even with fewer students in state public schools “because of these exemptions.”

Hambiaouris previously called on teachers to pick up the slack so that the government could save millions of euro in additional hires, promising to inject that money back into the education system.

But teachers say over 200 educators would lose their jobs if the measure goes into effect.

Cyprus  |  education  |  teacher  |  strike  |  exemption  |  union  |  Hambiaouris  |  school  |  reform

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