STRIKING TEACHERS SAY NO TO PAY INCREASE

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NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Aug. 6) – A $2 million offer by Tonga's Ministry of Education to increase the salaries of government teachers, was rejected by striking teachers when it was announced by the Minister of Education, Rev. Dr Tevita Palefau and the Director of Education, Viliami Takau, at the 'Atele Indoor Stadium yesterday evening, August 5.

Tonga's teachers rejected the offer of a 60-125% pay increase, in solidarity with other strikers

The teachers, who make up about half of some 3,000 strikers, viewed any acceptance of the offer as breaking their solidarity with the hundreds of civil servants from other ministries, who are now entering the third week of a national strike demanding better pay.

The Minister and his Director appeared very pleased with themselves when they announced the new salary structure designed only for teachers. Under the new eight levels structure, they said the teachers would be awarded a rise ranging from 60% at the top to 125% at the bottom.

Following the announcement, Viliami Takau appealed for the teachers to return to work on Tuesday, for the beginning of the third term. He also stressed that if there were teachers who were still not happy with their salaries then they should raise their grievances with the ministry.

When he called for questions, the first speaker said the offer was too late, "the glass of water has been spilled" and that the only acceptable offer was the "60%, 70%, and 80%" increase for all public servants that was requested by the Public Service Association. He also told the Director that the Ministry's offer should come through the PSA and not directly to teachers.

The view expressed from the floor was supported with clapping and cheers from the teachers, an indication that teachers remained committed to the theme that has been established by the PSA, "Solidarity and Unity Forever", and that they would not go for anything else other than the "60%, 70%, and 80%" rise demanded by the PSA for all public servants.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Matangi Tonga: www.matangitonga.to/nav.html

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