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Education

Teaching unions to sue government over wage cuts after strike

TEACHING unions will sue the Education Ministry over pay cuts from a two-day strike held in September, the general-secretary of the teachers’ union Poed Charis Charalambous said on Saturday.

In a post on social media, Charalambous said that the parents’ organisations called on the ministry to make-up the two days lost due to the strike by adding two non-working days to the year.

“Unfortunately, the minister of education and the government, who are supposedly interested in maximising teaching time, preferred to immediately and in record time cut wages of teachers, instead of accepting this recommendation,” Charalambous said.

Charalambous added that after this development the unions would take legal action against the state, having received legal advice.

“I repeat for the umpteenth time that wages are not the issue.  The issue is to stop the illegality and the arbitrariness of the employer, if it is proven in court.”

He added that if the unions win their case in court, they will decide what to do with the money.

At the start of the school year in September, state teachers went on a two-day strike following a cabinet decision in July slashing class exemptions for extracurricular activities and as a perk of seniority.

Unions said that these were unilateral decisions and they were not consulted on the matter before the government announced them.

In August, thousands of teachers marched to the Presidential Palace in Nicosia over the measures passed by the cabinet.

Teachers were protesting measures concerning the abolition and reduction of exemptions from teaching hours for extracurricular activities and based on years of service and/or age. These measures aim to save funds spent on employment of additional teachers, spending them instead on programmes and projects in state education.

Spokesman for teaching union Oelmek, Yiannos Socratous, had said: “This will be the springboard for other social struggles. Today, a brilliant page is being written for education in Cyprus. Some have sought to demean us. The struggle will not end here.”

Addressing the protestors at the march Poed’s head Filios Fylaktou said: “Education, after many years, has reached a dangerous limit. Education has been turned into a time-bomb, which was activated by the Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris on July 2, 2018.”

Fylaktou said that there was a “complete lack” of understanding during discussions with the government, and that there is a need to respect the processes followed during negotiations and dialogue.

Following his speech and comments about Hambiaouris, the crowd booed and called on the minister to resign.

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