The school year began for 1.5 million students across the country yesterday amid pay disputes with primary and preschool teachers, who are preparing to walk off the job on Monday. The Greek Primary Teachers’ Federation (DOE) has called a five-day strike over calls for a pay hike and demands to increase staff numbers. DOE claims that there are currently 2,924 unfilled teachers positions. The strike will result in 735,000 primary and preschool students staying at home for five days. Education Ministry officials have responded by saying that the claims are groundless and that an extra 2,731 staff members have already been hired. «There will be no vacant positions as whatever gaps are created will be covered immediately. At this moment, we have all the substitute teachers we need,» said Education Minister Marietta Giannakou. The education sector is in for more protest action toward the end of the month with the Federation of Secondary School Teachers (OLME) planning a 24-hour strike for either September 28 or 29, according to sources. Meanwhile, for the police it was business as usual yesterday as they conducted checks on 476 vehicles used to transport students. Thirty-seven violations were detected on tourist buses hired by schools, while another 62 were found on other school vehicles. Most offenses were to do with excessively worn tires and the lack of seat belts.