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Contract teachers to strike next week (Updated)

Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris

Contract teachers who work afternoons said they will go on a 24-hour strike next week after Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris said on Friday there is no possibility at the moment of changing their status.

The minister made an appeal for any measures that could cause problems in schools to be avoided.

The ministry, following a meeting between Hambiaouris and representatives of a number of trade and teachers’ unions, said that it is always open to dialogue. Afternoon teachers however, said that as their demand to be made employees instead of working on contracts for the ministry has not been granted, they will discuss launching escalating industrial measures as of next week.

Hambiaouris met with representatives of trade unions Peo and Sek, teacher unions Poed, Oelmek and Oltek and representatives of teachers working in all-day schools, night schools, and state afternoon classes. The main demand of the teachers is to be made employees instead of having to work on contracts. Working on contracts, they said, means that they have no unemployment benefits to fall back on during the four months or so each year they are not working.

Also during those months they do not receive minimum credit for the purposes of calculating their pensions, as provided for by legislation for those who receive unemployment benefit, they said.

The education ministry said earlier in the month that cabinet had decided to fully comply with the ruling of the administrative court, where the teachers sought legal recourse, before taking any further steps.

Following the meeting, Hambiaouris said that the government intends on improving the teachers’ pay, but that at the moment there is no possibility of changing their status. This, he said, will be discussed within the framework of streamlining the service.

“There are 14 different programmes, each with its own particularity, in which are employed people with different qualifications and on different terms,” Hambiaouris said.

He added that the representatives said they would inform their members and return with counterproposals.

“I believe that, in good faith, all those convergences will be achieved to address all concerns mentioned today,” he said.

Hambiaouris made a plea to ‘avoid any conflictual situation which would create problems in schools’.

Union representatives however said that as the meeting had not produced any positive results teachers  at the State Institutes of Further Education (KIE) and all-day primary schools and kindergartens will go on a 24-hour strike on Tuesday.

Following this development, unions urged parents not to bring their children to the KIEs on Tuesday and to pick them up from all-day primary schools and kindergartens at 1.05 pm.

They warned that strike measures will escalate unless there is progress on their demands.

Educators and the unions expressed their sympathy to parents and students for the problems the strike will cause but said they were left with no other option by the stance.

According to the education ministry around 17,000 pupils attend KIEs each year. KIEs operate as state-run afternoon institutes and offer preparatory lessons for the university entry and school leaving exams, consolidation lessons for high school pupils, accounting, information and communication technology courses, foreign languages and Greek for foreigners.



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