Striking Teachers face paycut in the Solomon Islands

Honiara (Solomon Star): TEACHERS who continue with their strike action today faces cut to their salaries back dated to last week.

This was confirmed by the government in a statement last night.

Teachers last week agreed to go on strike despite Government’s assurance the first 900 teachers will receive their re-leveling and increment dues this Thursday.

The decision to continue the strike was reached last week during a meeting between Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) executive and Honiara-based teachers.

It came a day after outspoken SINTA president Samson Faisi was forced, allegedly through government pressure, to step aside.

Mr Faisi, now SINTA’s industrial relations officer, told the Solomon Star last week the members are not backing down:

“The strike will continue. This is what teachers have agreed on.

“It will continue until all teachers are paid their dues.”

He said they were aware of the list of teachers Cabinet approved to receive their dues this coming Thursday.

But he said this is not the first time the government has made a promise.

 “We’ve seen unfulfilled promises before.

“This time teachers want to see their re-leveling and increments paid before they can return to classes,” he said.

But in a statement last night the government has accused SINTA of ignorance by voting to go on strike despite its commitment to pay the teachers this week.

“In response to that, the Government will start deducting the salaries of the teachers who are party to the strike, dating back to July 15th.”

The statement issued last night said that the teachers’ decision to boycott classes despite a positive response on its part was totally uncalled for and showed bad faith on the side of the teachers.

It said as a responsible association, SINTA should have encouraged its members to return to work whilst the Government had shown commitment to pay the teachers that are entitled to re-levelling and those that qualify for increments.

Government will this week pay teachers from 21 Education Authorities (EA) of the total 29 (EA).

The statement said SINTA knew the difficulties in finalizing the civil list but yet it acted irresponsibly by opting out of the task force.

 “We can’t continue to pay for those who withdraw their labour,” the statement said.

According to the Government, the deduction will be implemented as soon as schools and teachers affected are identified by the ministry of education.

The Government has been in constant contact with education authorities and it knows exactly schools and teachers that join the strike and their teachers.

“Those people will have their salaries deducted in the course of the coming weeks,” it said.

Cabinet last Thursday approved a list of SINTA and non-SINTA members who will be paid their re-level and increment on July 25.

Those to be paid are part of the 21 Education Authorities agreed and finalised by the taskforce appointed to look into the teachers’ issue.

The teachers’ names who have been approved for releveling and increment have been published in one of the print media outlets yesterday.

Now, only eight Education Authorities are left and Cabinet said this will be finalised soon and have the remaining teachers paid.

This is the third strike teachers have taken this year over non-payment of their dues.

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