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Teachers union demands president intervenes in contract dispute, issues deadline

Education Minister Costas Kadis (right) with the Oelmek and Oltek unions

PRIMARY education teachers’ union Poed on Thursday gave a deadline until October 12 for President Nicos Anastasiades to intervene and satisfy their demands on the employment status of substitute colleagues, otherwise they would respond with work stoppages.

Following a meeting of the union’s board to discuss whether to accept the employment terms of a number of teachers who will be called to work as substitutes on 10-month contracts, Poed’s chairman Philios Phylaktou said they found the terms unacceptable. Poed is pushing for 12-month contracts.

The union, along with secondary and technical education teachers’ unions Oelmek and Oltek, on Thursday received a letter from the education ministry with the employment terms for 125 teachers across all educational levels, which they find unacceptable. Oelmek and Oltek said they accepted the employment terms proposed by the ministry, the latter on condition it was only applied to this school year.

“Poed will send the letter back to the minister. It does not accept this,” Phylaktou said.

“If the ministry wants to discuss employment terms of teachers it will have to do it through a constitutionally and legally-regulated body, based on international laws and we will report the education ministry to European and international organisations,” he said. “The permanent needs of schools must be covered with teachers with annual contacts and not invented statuses,” Phylaktou said.

He added that Poed expected Anastasiades to intervene “to resolve the problem in the right direction”. The union, he said, has given as a deadline for this of October 12.

If this does not happen, Phylaktou said, the union board will convene the next day to decide on the escalation of measures. They already agreed, he said, to six one-hour work stoppages spanning two months should the president not intervene. This, he said, is to keep the issue alive and continue discussion.

The union already went on a warning one-hour work stoppage last week.

Poed also decided that they would no longer engage in a dialogue concerning “any innovations of the education ministry,” he said.

The head of Oelmek, Demetris Taliadoros said they were satisfied.

“I believe they are the best terms secured. They are six-month-plus-four contracts. Our colleagues will be employed until June 30 when the school year ends. They will also receive their pay benefits both for the Easter and Christmas holidays,” he said. Those who will work under this status will also receive merit for the teacher appointment lists, he said.

The terms will be reviewed by the public service commission on October 6, Taliadoros said.

The chairman of the technical education teachers’ union Oeltek, Michalis Tsiarlistos, said that the aim was to have the employment of teachers with this status discontinued, as it was also introduced last year but that the cabinet gave reassurances that this would be the last year this measure was being implemented.

As technical education is expected to grow next year and more appointments will be necessary, Tsiarlistos said, “we wouldn’t want the same problems we have this year”.

According to recent statements by Education Minister Costas Kadis, the cabinet had commissioned a study into streamlining the employment of teachers both in primary and secondary education and that within the year there might be changes based on the results of this study.

It was therefore deemed best not to give one-year contracts to all teachers called on to fill in empty posts as they might not be needed for the whole year.

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