As of Saturday, two of the three education unions, secondary-school teachers’ union Oelmek and of technical schoolteachers’ union Oltek, had confirmed they would not be accepting the latest compromise deal jointly drafted by union leaders and a ministerial committee on Thursday.
“The Oelmek administrative council decided that the government’s latest proposal cannot be accepted, and so the continuation of intensive dialogue is imperative,” Oelmek leader Yiannos Socratous said in a social media post.
Indicative of Oelmek’s intentions was also a post by the union’s vice president Pantelis Nicolaides: “If by Sunday there is no agreement, on Wednesday and Thursday we strike.”
Oltek similarly rejected the latest government compromise proposal in an announcement on Saturday, claiming that the proposal was such that it could not be considered satisfactory.
“In view of its willingness to alleviate the public education crisis, we will propose to the other two education organisations that a counter-proposal is collectively drafted and sent to the government, which will be asked to clarify certain points so that commitments prior to the initiation of the forthcoming dialogue are avoided, and so that the proposal can be fairer,” Oltek said.
With Oelmek and Oltek’s rejection, the education crisis’ trajectory still depends on the decision of the administrative council of primary schoolteachers union Poed, which has yet to formulate an official response to the latest proposal.
Poed general secretary Charis Charalambous posted on social media asking for his followers’ honest response to the question of whether all measures should be postponed or withdrawn, or if they should go all-in for with “a struggle until the final vindication.”
“Whatever we ALL decide, I’m in,” Charalambous added.
The government has already made clear to the unions that if the latest proposal is not endorsed by the union councils, and in view of rapidly-approaching start of the new school year, the revised cabinet decisions of August 30 will apply.
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 on Friday: “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.”
Organised students expressed their support for the teachers’ unions on Saturday, attributing responsibility for the education crisis to the government.
The coordinating committees of organised students of Nicosia-Kyrenia, Larnaca and Famagusta district schools said that “the responsibility for the current situation lies with the government and it’s unilateral decisions which are a continuation of previous reactionary policies applied to education.”
“How is it possible, Mr. Hambiaouris, [the education minster] to speak of streamlining when there are construction sites are passing for schools, when there are dysfunctional buildings, when the technical schools can’t absorb the massive student demand and when our teachers don’t even have time to teach us the full curricula?” the organised students added.
The government meanwhile announced that secondary schools would be opening on Monday.