Cyprus Mail

Teachers call off planned strike after minister caves

Education Minister Costas Kadis

In a gesture of good will, secondary public school teachers’ union Oelmek on Wednesday called off the strike it announced earlier this month, which it planned to stage at the start of the school year next week, after the education ministry offered compromise solutions on most of the issues the union raised.

In a statement after its executive body convened, Oelmek said that, following its meeting on Monday with minister Costas Kadis, as well as his letter to the union on Tuesday, it “appreciated the fact that the education minister caved and re-assessed the cost and job-cutting measures he announced on June 27”.

“The union appreciates the fact that the education minister amended his initial decision to scrap the literacy programme altogether, to introduce a new programme for the first and second grades,” the union said.

The literacy programme is a booster-course for high-school pupils lagging seriously in basic literacy skills.

Further, Oelmek said, the ministry has pledged to add eight additional teacher secondments to help update curricular programmes.

The union also acknowledged the ministry’s decision to take back a decision allowing “mixed” classes, meaning pupils from different classes will not form new classes in particular courses.

“It is also positive that all public secondary schools will be administratively staffed fully, since all promotions have been effected, even without the commensurate pay increase,” it noted.

But for all the positives, OELMEK voiced concern over the “risk of colleagues who worked in previous years being left without work this year, due to the reforms decided by the government”.

“We believe that the state should make sure, through targeted policies, to keep colleagues with many years of service in education from unemployment,” the union urged.

“We would also like to remind that, since 2013, civil servants see part of their salaries, from 0.8 to 2 per cent, withheld, in order to appoint teachers on contract.”

Given all of the above, Oelmek said, it suspended the strike measures announced on August 19, in anticipation of implementation of the minister’s commitments.

“The [union’s] board will monitor implementation, and the entire situation, and will convene a pancyprian general meeting to evaluate the new circumstances,” it announced.

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