SOLOMON ISLANDS TEACHERS ON STRIKE

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HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, October 30) – Teachers nation wide will go on a sit-in strike starting today after the government failed to respond to their demands last week.

The Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) put forward the teachers’ demands to the Ministry of Education several years ago. The demands came to spotlight again this year when SINTA pressurized the Government to swiftly implement them as teachers could no longer cope with the cost of living on their current salaries.

The demands are part of the teachers’ scheme of service, based on three main issues: teachers’ salary structure, re-leveling and realignment of teachers and the long service benefit.

SINTA had warned that if the government failed to implement the scheme on the agreed time, an industrial action would be taken.

Twice SINTA had relaxed the 28 days strike notice from the 28th of August 2006 to the 25th of September 2006 to give time for the ministry to carry administration work on the scheme of service.

Again on the understanding that the ministry have compromised on a number of issues that SINTA have proposed to the government, SINTA again extended the strike notice for another 28 days which ended last Friday.

Recently SINTA General Secretary Fr John Maaka called on all teachers to take industrial action if the government failed to implement the scheme by the end of last week.

On Friday, all Honiara and Guadalcanal teachers agreed to carry out the industrial action.

The more than 150 teachers who attended the meeting at St John, expressed dissatisfaction over the failure of the government to implement the scheme of service on the proposed dates.

A number of teachers from some of the provinces, especially Malaita who attended meeting pledged their support behind the strike.

SINTA Public relations officer Johnley Hatimoana said he had met with the ministry of finance to discuss the actual figures for the proposed scheme of service and promised to address it last week.

Mr Hatimoana claimed that ministry of education’s delay resulted in the non-executing of the proposed scheme of service.

"This scheme of service is taking us years and we will no longer stand this," one angry teacher said.

The teachers agreed that they would continue to strike until they see payments come through their accounts.

They agreed to return to work as long as their demands are met.

"If we see our payments on Monday (today) we will go back to work on Tuesday, if on Tuesday, we will start on Wednesday," they said.

Solomon Star was unable to get comments from the ministry of education.

[PIR editor’s note: According to PIR files, Solomon Islands teachers have periodically brought their issues to light of education ministry officials over the years, often to no avail.]

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