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Strike looms

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SINTA General Secretary Johnley Hatimoana

Teachers urge PM to step in

SOLOMON Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) has called on the Prime Minister to step in and address their long standing issues before the start of 2013 academic year.

The warning came as SINTA issued a threat of a nation-wide strike if their demand is not settled by this Friday.

General Secretary Johnley Hatimoana said the government’s failure to honour its agreement with SINTA for the payback of teachers restructuring beginning last year will affect children nationwide.

“The government failed to implement what we have agreed on last year following a three years negotiation process. SINTA is likely to take a strike action starting next week if the government failed us again,” Mr Hatimoana warned.

He said this is because the government failed to fulfil its own promises and agreement which was passed in Cabinet as the new teachers HandBook last year.

Despite this approval, nothing has been done with teachers’ re-alignment, which teachers should have been paid according to their qualifications and experience in the service.

“When we ask the government why this was not implemented last year, they said this was not budgeted for. When we ask the government to payback on teachers from the beginning of last year, those responsible ministries said they have not budgeted that for the 2012 and 2013 budgets.

“This really frustrates us because why did Cabinet approved the realignment of teachers on the 9th of February last year and failed miserably to implement it and far worse it was not in their 2013 budget? This is so sad that the government of the day take for granted and fail their own agreement.”

He said the starting level for ECE, Primary school teachers has re-aligned from 4.5 to 5.5 which was implemented last year for the probationers but not for the rest of the teaching service.

“This has never happened for those with higher qualification and experience in the teaching service, who are still paid below their re-alignment levels as according to the last years approved Teaching Handbook.

“If teachers on probation are now paid on the 5.5 level, why others who have been in the teaching service who are more qualified and experienced?” Mr Hatimoana questioned.

He said this is unfair and called on the government to do back date payments for them. But the government’s response was again negative.

It is understood the government promised teachers payments will be made December last year which never eventuated and last week which also never happen. This angered teachers throughout the country.

Mr Hatimoana said it is sad to see the government fail its promises and agreement because “we have raised this issue since last year and now they say it was not in the 2013 budget either”.

The SINTA rep called on PM Lilo to step in quickly to address the issue before next Monday.

He said failure will mean children nationwide will be affected “from the government’s own making”.

“SINTA is blaming the government for what it causes. We therefore strongly call on the Prime Minister to step in or teachers nationwide will withdraw their labour as of Monday next week,” Mr Hatimoana said.

He called on parents and guardians to understand and bear with them over what the government had caused which will affect their children’s education.

“We had enough of the government’s excuses and will no longer tolerate any further excuse.”

Meanwhile, confirmation of a strike action will come out from SINTA’s general meeting on Friday.

By Daniel Namosuia