One day after administrative staff at Athens University and the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) decided to extend their strike into a 13th week, Education Minister Constantinos Arvanitopoulos (photo) on Friday urged the rector of the former to step in and end the dispute.

During a telephone call on Friday the embattled minister asked rector Theodosis Pelegrinis to make a public statement asking staff to end their action. Switching the institution back into operation, he said, is a precondition for further talks over government plans to put hundreds of workers into a scheme of forced transfers and layoffs.

Earlier, Arvanitopoulos held talks with representatives of the NTUA in a bid to defuse the crisis.

NTUA workers appear divided about the ongoing strike. According to a union representative, about half of the staff turned up for work on Friday. His claim was disputed by striking employees.