Teachers mull next move as parent pressure mounts

Primary school teachers had not decided late last night whether to continue their industrial action for a seventh week as they met to discuss the government’s refusal to give in on their wage demands. State primary schools have been shut since September 18 because the teachers want a monthly pay rise of 450 euros (some 45 percent). However, in a meeting with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Tuesday, the educators were told that there was no way the ruling conservatives would grant the salary hike. The government says its effort to reduce the public debt and deficit means there are no extra funds available. This was underlined yesterday. «There is nothing left in the budget to satisfy any other needs,» said Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Petros Doukas. There was speculation yesterday that having failed to sway the premier, the teachers would decide to go back to work. A final decision is expected today. Striking teachers have not been paid for the last six weeks and an increasing number of parents are criticizing their stance. One parent has launched legal action against the teachers to force them to return to their jobs. «The government has nothing to do with that matter,» said government spokesman Evangelos Antonaros amid claims the ruling conservatives prompted the lawsuit. «We all want the situation in the education sector to be smoothed over,» said Antonaros, who refused to speculate on what the government’s position would be if the teachers continue their strike. Secondary school teachers, who have also staged several strikes over the last month, are also expected to decide today whether to take any further action.