Cyprus Mail

Poed threatens legal action over pay cuts for strikers

Thousands of teachers protesting the government measures in August

Primary teachers’ union Poed warned on Tuesday they would take legal action against pay cuts levied against them for striking last month, arguing they were forced to take action by the government.

Union head Filios Fylaktou said they have sent a letter to the education ministry asking whether it would be legal to suffer pay cuts for the two days they were on strike in September.

Speaking to state broadcaster CyBC, Fylaktou said the union was prepared to take legal action over the matter.

The union, along with secondary education’s Oelmek and Oltek, last month went on a 48-hour-strike to protest against a number of measures the government announced in July in a bid to streamline the teaching time of teachers.

“It is not about the money,” Fylaktou said. He added that what they were questioning was why they should suffer a pay cut since “educational organisations were pushed to take these strike measures.”

This, he said, was evident by the result, as, following the strike, the government withdrew 80 per cent of the measures it had announced in July.

The announcement comes after it was reported that the education ministry had given instructions to the state treasury for the deduction of money from the salaries of teachers who took part in the strike from October paypackets.

Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris was quoted on Tuesday by the CyBC that it was the right of workers to strike but also the right of the employer to implement pay cuts for those strikes.

After around three months of haggling, the government and public school teachers agreed at the end of last month to immediately start talks on the various problems faced by state education.

The crisis, which was marked by the 48-hour strike and work-to-rule action, began in July, when the government announced a string of measures designed to streamline the operation of public schools. At the end of August, thousands of teachers and people who supported them staged a protest march, which ended outside the presidential palace.

Unions were up in arms when the education ministry decided to reduce the free time previously afforded to senior educators as well as to union cadres to engage in trade-union activities during normal working hours.

The government has since largely walked this back, bringing a revised proposal where the top officials from each trade union will be allotted a certain number of hours per week to engage in union work during normal working hours.

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