By Lizzy Ioannidou
The government on Friday urged teachers’ unions to accept the latest proposal in view of the start of the school year and the current uncertainty, reminding them that following implementation, a greater dialogue could then be launched to solve the education crisis.
Government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou said: “The consensual proposal resulting from intensive consultations between the inter-ministerial committee and the trade union leadership is the regulation that should be applied to this specific school year.”
He urged unions to accept the proposal until final agreements can be reached on educational reform and the streamlining of the system “for an improved and qualitatively upgraded public education.”
Prodromou also said that the government and education ministry had already began preparatory work for the implementation of the most recent proposal, so as to ensure to the greatest extent possible a smooth start to the new school year.
The board of teachers’ unions Poed, Oelmek and Oltek, met earlier on Friday to discuss whether a new compromise document, drafted jointly by union leaders and a ministerial committee on Thursday to resolve the protracted crisis in education, would be endorsed.
While the unions will not announce any official decisions until Monday, efforts will continue on Saturday as the executive committees of the three unions are expected to hold separate meetings.
“We have studied the document before us all… Our goal is to reach a solution as soon as possible provided that the other side will show the necessary consensus,” primary schools union Poed representative Charis Charalambous said.
Earlier on Friday Charalambous said the proposal had some “additional positive elements” compared with previous ones.
Speaking after the unions’ meeting, Charalambous added: “Regarding the document, there are concerns and suggestions. These will be collected and sent to the other party, and we’ll see how they will respond.”
Despite the positive points on the most recent proposal, Charalambous said he would like to make clear that nothing has yet been decided.
The possibility of the crisis dragging on should the unions come to a negative decision, or choose to issue a counterproposal, is still open, according to Charalambous.
The most recent compromise document, formed jointly by a ministerial committee and the teachers’ unions leaders on Thursday, was studied on Friday by the administrative councils of the unions.
Charalambous noted however that the new proposal contained positive changes to the issue of staffing, for which “the government previously said that nothing can be changed,” Charalambous said.
As such, if the unions accept this latest proposal, they will aim to conclude efforts by Monday, so that the changes in staffing can be implemented as soon as possible.
Should the unions give an official ‘yes’, all that remains would be for president Nicos Anastasiades to be briefed and sign off on the agreement.
The government meanwhile announced that secondary schools would be opening on Monday.
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 of.
Rather than an escalation of measures, the unions have withdrawn from one of their previously-announced measures.