THE cabinet will not rethink its decision on the employment status of a number of teachers who will be called to work as substitutes, Education Minister Costas Kadis said on Friday.
The minister was responding to the ultimatum primary teachers’ union Poed gave on Thursday for President Nicos Anastasiades to intervene and overturn the cabinet decision to grant ten-month contracts to substitute teachers instead of 12-month ones as was the case so far. This employment status concerns 125 teachers across primary, secondary and technical education.
The union, despite that the government gave reassurances the measure would only be applied just for this school year, said that 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.
It also said that it expected Anastasiades to intervene “to resolve the problem in the right direction” by October 12. If the president does not intervene, the union said, they would stage six one-hour work stoppages spanning two months.
Poed already went on a warning one-hour work stoppage last week. It also announced that they would no longer engage in a dialogue concerning any innovations of the education ministry.
“This decision was taken by the cabinet based on the data presented to it. It secured the smooth operation of schools. Reviewing this decision is not on the table,” Kadis said.
He added that Poed has been asking for the appointment of more staff to help meet needs in schools. “We gave them these posts and now they block all reforms,” Kadis said.
If Poed however, he said, does not want to participate in the dialogue concerning education reforms, then its opinion “simply will not be taken into consideration”.
The role of the education ministry, Kadis said, is to serve society and to continue the reform of the educational system.
His ministry, he said, has already submitted to all unions its proposal on student evaluation.
“They will not participate in the dialogue concerning the evaluation system of primary school students,” Kadis said. He added that maybe they are afraid that through the student evaluation “things come to surface” they do not want become known.
Kadis said that his ministry will be not be deterred if Poed does not want to participate in the dialogue on teacher evaluation. “We will proceed with those who want to discuss this with us”.
The best interests of children and of the educational system must be above any union interests, he said.
Akel affiliated workers’ union Peo said in an announcement Poed’s reaction was understandable as this was a “serious issue of principle”.
The government’s decision to cover needs in education with a new category of employees was another step toward employment with fewer rights and bigger insecurity for workers, it said.
Similar policies, Peo said, have already been applied in other cases whereby turning teachers working at the state institutes and all-day schools from employed to self-employed through the purchase of services. This tendency is also on the rise, it said, in the civil service, semi-governmental organisations and local government.
The government instead of safeguarding regular employment promotes its de-regulation, “thus undermining the agreed framework and conditions of employment,” Peo said.
This tactic “gives alibi and encourages” private sector employers to act similarly, it said.