Education minister ceases talks with striking university staff

In an effort to force an end to a strike by administrative staff at Athens University that has kept the institution closed for nearly 13 weeks, Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos Monday decided to cease all talks with representatives and referred rector Theodosis Pelegrinis to a disciplinary council for dereliction of duty.

“Discussions with the administrative staff of Athens University will continue only under one condition: that they are back at their desks tomorrow,” Arvanitopoulos said as administrative staff announced that they will be extending their strike Tuesday and Wednesday following a meeting at the institution’s central Athens premises.

Arvanitopoulos has accused Pelegrinis of contributing to the deadlock, which has put some 100,000 students at serious risk of missing the first semester of the academic year.

“In contrast to the rectors of the other seven universities that will be affected by the labor mobility scheme, Pelegrinis is keeping the institution closed with his inertia and his inability to enforce the decisions of the council,” Arvanitopoulos said in reference to a decision by the council for a skeleton staff to be put in place to ensure that Athens University could at least open for classes.

The education minister added that he is exploring the option of extending the academic year into the summer to make up for the 13 weeks that have been lost.

Administrative staff at Athens University and at the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) are protesting the induction into a civil service streamlining scheme of some 1,300 of their number from various institutions around the country.

Staff at the NTUA will also continue their strike Tuesday and Wednesday, though classes at that institution have already started.

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