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Akel calls for extraordinary meeting of House committee over English School layoffs

english school
A demonstration last month outside the Presidential Palace Photo: Christos Theodorides

Main opposition party Akel has called for the House education committee to have an extraordinary meeting to address layoffs at The English School in Nicosia, and called on the president to intervene.

The party issued an announcement late on Wednesday to express its discontent over staff moves at the school, branding the administration as authoritarian, victimising both the school and its students.

It said that the administration proceeded to illegally dismiss three teachers whose only “sin” was that they dared to defend the rights of their colleagues.

“This reprehensible action essentially targets the right to unionise and ultimately victimizes the school itself and its students,” Αkel said.

According to Akel, the direct intervention of the President of the Republic at this stage is required to revoke “the authoritarian and vindictive decision of the school’s administration” as he is the only one who can create conditions for dialogue.

In calling for an extraordinary meeting of the House education committee it noted that the school’s board of directors – appointed by the council of ministers – illegally refused to attend the session on July 26. The party said this would not be tolerated a second time.

According to Akel, there is only one way out of this crisis: “to revoke the dismissals and start a dialogue.”

English School staff union (ESSA) last month protested outside the presidential palace, calling for the decision to dismiss three teachers to be revoked.

The three teachers, members of the union, received their letters informing them of the decision to dismiss them after the school closed for the summer.

The board has said the school has “a well-established right to apply the provisions of its disciplinary code where it has reasonable grounds to suspect that disciplinary misconduct has been committed.”

It added that the school’s right to proceed with legal procedures has been confirmed by the relevant department of the labour ministry.

It also clarified that the decision was unrelated to the academics’ trade union involvement.

Founded over 100 years ago, the English School is a private secondary school the legal status of which was confirmed in 2007 by a final decision of the Supreme Court. However, it is still regulated by a special legislation dictating that its management and maintenance are responsibilities of the state, which also means that part of its budget comes from state funding.

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