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Primary school teachers say there is room to settle differences

Members of Poed trade union outside the meeting room at the education ministry earlier this month

Primary school teachers said on Tuesday there was still room to come to an understanding with the government over differences that threaten to disrupt the new school year.

On Monday, the government said it would send a new invitation to teachers for talks following a month-long spat over a cabinet decision to end the practice of reduced teaching hours according to the length of service as well as for extra-curricular activities.

“We’ll wait for the minister’s invitation; we’ll study it and give our view,” Phylios Phylactou, the head of primary school teachers’ union Poed told the Cyprus News Agency.

Phylactou said after they receive the minister’s letter, which, as the government said, will contain detailed positions, they will convene a meeting and decide whether a substantive dialogue can start.

“As far as I understand, the letter will also include some sort of framework,” Phylactou added. He said teachers were not downbeat but neither optimistic because they wanted to see the document first before responding.

He did strike a note of concern however, as regards the minister’s comment on Monday that the doors to a dialogue remained open.

“We have made numerous attempts to come to an understanding and find a solution in recent days but unfortunately they didn’t bear fruit,” he said.

He did voice his belief though that there was still room to come to an understanding.

“We still believe there is room to come to an understanding provided there is good will,” he added.

On Monday, Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris met President Nicos Anastasiades and briefed him on the matter.

The matter has been in the spotlight for over a month now with the government appearing resolute, at least for the time being, and teachers’ unions determined not to back down.

The public debate that ensued was also marked by exchanges on social media between Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides and the employers’ association Keve, on one side, and educators on the other.

Thousands of teachers took to the streets in July to protest and are expected to do so again at the end of this month if the issue is not resolved.

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