Solomons Teachers Threaten Mass Boycott Over Unpaid Fares

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Educators disappointed in allegedly annual non-payment

By Douglas Marau

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Dec. 12, 2012) – More than 600 teachers are threatening to boycott the 2013 academic year if the Solomon Islands government and Honiara City Council (HCC) fail to provide their sea fare allowances.

Disgruntled teachers from all the HCC schools yesterday protested in front of the council office demanding that their sea fare stipends be settled immediately.

The angry teachers even threatened to tear down the HCC office saying they have always been victims of "rich people" stealing from them.

"We sweat our guts out and sacrifice our time to be in class everyday to help educate our future generations and in return this is how the government and the HCC are treating us," a teacher from St. John said in front of the HCC office yesterday.

"It shows the government and the HCC has no respect for us and they do not value our hard work," the teacher said.

Another teacher said they have been going through the same problem every year and it was time the government think seriously of addressing this problem.

"What if we all plan to boycott the academic year next year? Who is to be blamed?"

Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) general secretary Johnley Hatimoana told Solomon Star yesterday the teachers were really disappointed because this problem happens every year.

"Our teachers are disappointed and we will make sure we get what we are supposed to get," Mr. Hatimoana said.

He said HCC must take the blame because they fail to meet their obligation.

It is understood under an agreement signed between the government, HCC and SINTA; the government has to pay 50 percent of the teachers’ sea fares and the HCC was supposed to pay the other 50 percent.

Therefore, the government and the HCC should pay SB$691,000 [US$93,354] each which should total up to about SB$1.3 million [US$175,630].

However, Mr. Hatimoana said only the government had settled their part whilst the HCC has not injected any money.

He said this only adds to the problem that they were informed that only SB$658,430 [US$88,953] of the money given by the government was available with more than SB$30,000 [US$4,053] missing.

"We want answers and we want this issue to be resolved and not to be repeated again next year," he said.

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