The English School staff union (ESSA) is held a third protest on Monday morning outside the presidential palace.

In a statement, the organisation said that unfortunately while the minister of labour had mediated between ESSA and the school board, and had given clear instructions, including suspension of measures by both parties until the completion of the process, the employer had violated the principle of mediation.

“The directorate and the administration unilaterally proceeded to arbitrary and vindictive proceedings against the three women who lead the guild,” the statement added.

The organisation called on the trade unions and all democratic citizens to support its actions.

An announcement in reaction to the staff union protest was issued by the parents’ association Students First English School Parent Association.

The parents’ association condemned what it called the arbitrary and irregular actions of the school staff union, and said ESSA has no right to demand the dismissal of the headmaster, who has the full support of the parents. Nor, they said, could the union interfere with the school’s right to take disciplinary action against teachers who fail to perform their duties.

The association claims more than 750 parents as members, with membership increasing daily. Their stated purpose is “to promote the interests of our children and to support the ‘StudentsFirst’ reforms introduced by the director.”

The recently formed parents’ association expressed frustration and sadness that the lawful initiation of a disciplinary inquiry by the English School, involving members of the teaching staff, was met with attempts to impede it and that ESSA went on strike despite the fact that the ministry of labour had unequivocally declared such action illegal.

“As the majority parents’ association, we will not accept further delays in launching the ‘StudentsFirst’ reforms. Any delays jeopardise the whole process and we all know that time on this sensitive issue is paramount. We emphasise that it is your duty as educators to support the reform program. We condemn your non-acceptance of the reform agenda and your demand for the resignation of the director,” the association said in its announcement.

SFESPA added that the school cannot “be held hostage” again, in the midst of a serious examination period, that it was unconscionable of staff to behave this way towards the large percentage of students whose future depends on these exams, and that this was not a labour issue. To do “all this simply because the administration was seeking to gather information in the context of disciplinary investigation following official complaints,” was utterly unacceptable it said.

“We have been fair, careful and patient in recent weeks, but it seems that the issue has gone too far and has reached unacceptable levels, and parents will not hesitate to take their own actions through legal channels,” the association concluded, reminding the union that the English School is a private institution and that parents pay and finance 95 per cent of the school’s income.