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Tentative deal in education stand-off (Update 2)

Photo: Teachers union reps meeting with the president Christos Theodorides)

By George Psyllides

THE standoff between state teachers and the government appeared to be heading for resolution on Thursday, as the two sides were able to hammer out a framework deal.

The Cyprus News Agency (CNA) said the three main teachers’ unions had in their hands a document, drafted jointly by a ministerial committee and union leaders.

However the document – understood to be an interim deal – would need to be endorsed by the syndicates, scheduled to meet again on Friday.

Should the unions give an official ‘yes’, all that remained would be for president Nicos Anastasiades to be briefed and sign off on the agreement.

CNA said the document was the outcome of intensive deliberations taking place late on Wednesday evening that had dragged on until 3am Thursday.

Meetings with the government went on throughout the day in a bid to break the deadlock.

The heads of the Poed and Oltek unions went up to the presidential palace for more talks with a ministerial committee tasked with resolving the crisis.

Teachers unions had been meant to hold a meeting at lunchtime Thursday to discuss how to proceed but it was delayed, as the two sides engaged in consultations to resolve the matter.

Unions Oelmek, Oltek, and Poed were meant to meet at lunchtime Thursday in the wake of their members granting them authorization to take any measures they saw fit, including staging a strike.

The government meanwhile announced that secondary education schools would be opening on Monday and not Friday, as was the schedule.

The postponement had been requested by parents’ associations amid the ongoing dispute between the government and educators.

On Wednesday, the overwhelming majority of teachers – over 94 per cent — voted to grant their unions the authority to step up their reaction to government decisions they disapproved.

Daily Politis reported on Thursday that a secret meeting was held on neutral ground – the foreign ministry – between the heads of the unions and a ministerial committee made up by the ministers of education, labour, and agriculture, to discuss the latest compromise proposal submitted by the government.

Politis, quoting an unnamed government source, reported that the meeting was good and hopes to overcome the deadlock were revived.

The ministers asked the unions to give their view on the proposal and apparently there is common ground in several points.

During the meeting, the two sides also discussed an early retirement plan for teachers with the government pledging to fill the vacancies with new hires.

 

 

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