EDUCATION minister Costas Kadis expressed his dismay on Friday over the decision by the primary teachers’ union, Poed, to resume the one-hour work stoppages suspended earlier in the month.
The union had announced it would suspend the strike measures over the employment status of temporary teachers and other problems faced in schools, due to the Cyprus settlement talks in Switzerland.
The head of the union, Filios Phylaktou had said that they had also taken into consideration the appeal by the House Education committee, which acts as a mediator between Poed and the education ministry, but also their scheduled meeting with Kadis, in order to embark on a dialogue.
Despite having met twice with the minister, Phylaktou said on Friday, the union’s leadreship felt no progress had been made on the issues they had raised – delinquency, illiteracy and the employment status of temporary teachers – thus “any suspension (of strike measures) could not be sustained”.
The union announced last month that five one-hour work stoppages were scheduled to take place on rotation in each district every Wednesday morning between 7.30am and 8.30am, meaning schools in the affected districts would all start an hour later. The strike already took place in Limassol and in Famagusta. Next are the Paphos teachers, followed by Larnaca and those in Nicosia.
Phylaktou said that on November 30 Larnaca teachers will strike for one hour, while those in Nicosia and Paphos would strike on the same day, December 7.
Kadis said he was surprised to hear that the union, despite being engaged in a dialogue, decided to resume the strike measures. The minister said that the union continues to press on the employment status of temporary teachers who were given 10-month contracts instead of 12-month ones.
He added that despite his numerous verbal and written assurances that this employment status will be implemented only for this school year, Poed insist that they do not want this to become a precedent.
Kadis said that Poed also wants reassurances that the ministry will expand the pilot programmes it introduced this year on illiteracy and delinquency in schools, but that this cannot happen before their impact is properly assessed.
“As regards the illiteracy programme, it is one of six which we want to implement. But when Poed blocks the other five with its decisions and supports only that which concerns extra hiring, how are we to make a total assessment as to its positive impact?” Kadis said.
Our position, he said, is that these issues should be discussed one by one, and that the dialogue should continue.
He added that he finds it odd that even though the suspension of the measures was made on the basis of developments concerning the Cyprus problem, “Poed has again decided to resume the measures”.
“This contradicts its first decision. Let everyone be judged by their actions,” Kadis said.
Poed’s key demand is for annual – 12-month – contracts to be given to temporary teachers instead of 10-month ones, as per a cabinet decision aiming to tackle staff shortages in schools. The union’s board had said that the strike was also about serious problems primary schools faced in pre-school, special education, illiteracy, children whose mother tongue is not Greek and juvenile delinquency.