PRIMARY school teachers’ union Poed is to stage a protest on Tuesday to demand the postponement of the new appointment system for their colleagues who have been employed for more than 30 months but have not been given open-ended contracts.
Protesters are to gather outside the education ministry in Nicosia where they are to hand a memo to Minister Costas Kadis. Union officials said they chose to organise the protest next week as schools will be closed.
According to Poed chairman, Fylios Fylaktou, there are 350 teachers who work as replacement teachers or have been given one-year contracts.
He told the Cyprus Mail that there would be consequences, both in education and in society, as contract teachers who are currently employed in schools, and who have exceeded 30 months of service, will be eventually trumped up in the appointment list by newcomers who will be appointed through the new system and lose their job. “The state would end up paying them a compensation,” he said.
The law provides that when an employee is on a fixed-term contract for 30 months or more, this is deemed to be permanent, while its duration can only be limited if there is no further need for that position.
These teachers, Fylaktou said, do not have a right to permanent appointment, but at the same time, the state cannot fire them.
The union cites a recent ruling of the Labour Disputes Court that granted a teacher who had completed a 30-month service the right to be given an open-ended contract. The decision is being appealed by the state legal services, Fylaktou said.
The union has already proposed for the postponement of the exams for a year to sort out the labour issues concerning these teachers, or for the new measure to apply only for permanent appointments.
“As long as there are positions for contract teachers, they are allowed by law to claim their right to remain in their job under the same status,” the union’s general secretary, Apostolos Apostolides told the Cyprus Mail. He added that when these posts cease to exist, these people will be compensated and leave the service.
The union warns that in the case the House education committee approves the law on the written exams of the new appointment system without making any amendments, this would lead to problems, as the government would either have to compensate those who will be awarded open-ended contracts, or fire some of those who have been appointed through the new system.
Fylaktou also said that there are very few available posts in primary education, and that the hopefuls are being exploited by private universities and other educational institutions that charge €600 per course to help them prepare for the exams. “They are going to take exams for four courses, that means they paid €2,400”.
Education minister Costas Kadis was quoted by the daily Phileleftheros as saying that the issue is being dealt with by the state legal services and that he is to meet with the Attorney-general. He also said that his ministry intends to safeguard the contract teachers with more than 30-montsh of service.
The first written exams are to take place between September and December, as per the new teacher appointment system which will be based on merit. To date, teachers are appointed according to the waiting lists, with positions given to those on the top of them.
The legislation passed last year provides that from September 2018 until August 31, 2027, 50 per cent of appointments will be made from the waiting lists and 50 per cent according to the new system. From September 2027, onward, all appointments will be made based on merit.
The new appointment system will take into consideration each candidate’s exam results, his or her university degree grade, additional academic qualifications, and teaching experience.