37,000 PNG TEACHERS WALK OFF JOB OVER BACK PAY

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 11) - Most of the 37,000 teachers in Papua New Guinea have gone on strike and will not back down until the Government sorts out discrepancies in their salaries and back pays them.

More than 100 frustrated teachers in the National Capital District and Central Province met yesterday at the Papua New Guinea Teachers Association (PNGTA) office and reaffirmed their solidarity not to return to classes unless the Government paid what is owed to them.

PNGTA president Tommy Hecko said the national management committee had resolved that teachers would be on strike for an indefinite period.

He said less than 1,000 teachers have been paid their discrepancies but they have documents that state that 25,000 teachers still need to be put on their correct salary level. He said the bipartisan taskforce established under the agreement signed between the Teaching Services Commission and PNGTA on May 19 had not verified the figures claimed by PNGTA -- that 25,000 teachers had salary discrepancies and 6000 teachers had not received their 4 percent pay rise as promised by the Government.

Hecko said whether the strike was illegal or not, the members were using their labor powers to withdraw their services. Meanwhile, TSC chairman Allan Jogioba maintained that the second round of the teachers strike was "illegal and uncalled for." Education Secretary Dr. Joseph Pagelio said the taskforce had so far updated the records of 3,969 teachers on the centralized payroll provinces totalling PGK8 million [US$2.7 million] and the update was continuing.

Pagelio said they had updated information that 8,000 teachers from decentralized provinces were not being paid correct salary levels, totalling about PGK20 million [US$6.9 million].

Pagelio said they had commenced paying discrepancies on July 5. He said teachers must understand that not everyone would benefit from these pay adjustments.

July 12, 2006

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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