The state audit service published European-wide statistics on salaries and working hours on Tuesday that showed Cypriot teachers were better paid and worked less hours than most of their colleagues in the EU.
According to the 2015-2016 European Commission’s report Eurydice, the difference between the minimum and maximum salary in Cyprus was the second highest in the EU – 145 per cent – and it comes about after 22 years of service, which is under the EU average.
Specifically, the report said the minimum annual gross salary for teachers was €23,885, while the maximum they earned after 22 years of service is estimated at €58,107.
The audit service, whose chief Odysseas Michaelides has repeatedly clashed with teachers in the past two months amid an ongoing dispute over their employment terms, said it had never proposed cutting the salaries of current and future educators.
“It should only be seen in the context of the need to rationalise the working and teaching times,” a written statement said.
On teaching hours, the service said it appeared Cyprus had the least hours, 18 to 24 periods of 45 minutes each – compared with other EU nations.
“The figures do not include the reduction in classroom time due to the so-called biological factor, nor the other exemptions in lieu of extracurricular duties.”
According to the audit service, the worst distortion is created when classroom time is reduced according to years of service.
“Reducing teachers’ workload is not a very widespread practice in Europe. Only nine countries cut teachers’ workload according to years of service or their age.”
In Germany, teachers get an hour docked when they reach 55 and two more five years later. The situation is similar in Portugal where hours gradually decrease from the age of 50.
Other countries with a similar system are Greece, France, Austria, Romania, Malta, and Luxemburg.
In Cyprus, primary education teachers have four hours docked – from 29 to 27 at 15 years and another two at 21 – and their secondary school colleagues six, two each at eight, 15, and 21.