The launch of the talks between teaching unions and Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris over streamlining hit an almost immediate a glitch on Wednesday when one union refused to hold consultations while a parents’ group were in the room.
The first meeting – between the minister and secondary education teachers’ union Oelmek – took place as scheduled, but the delegation of the primary education teachers’ union, Poed, that was to start right after, was delayed because they refused to let parents’ association representatives into the discussion room.
Poed’s refusal then delayed Hambiaouris’ third meeting with the union of technical education, Oltek.
Oelmek too had asked that parents not attend their meeting with the minister and parents agreed instead to a briefing from Hambiaouris at end of the talks.
The head of Oelmek, Yiannos Socratous, said that they did not want to exclude parents from educational matters, but that discussions on labour issues did not concern parents.
Oltek put forth the same argument.
After parents backed down following the commotion, the minister met with all unions.
The minister said that the talks would continue and the aim is to be completed by Sunday, adding that they would hold meetings during the weekend if necessary.
He added that his ministry has already given unions the data they had requested to prepare for the discussions.
The talks are meant to ensure a smooth start of the school year after the summer holidays. The unions said that they would decide, depending on the result of the dialogue, whether to carry on with strike measures they had announced.
At issue is the government’s decision to end the generous reduction in teaching hours according to length of service and other responsibilities. While many countries have a similar system, Cyprus’ is particularly generous.