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Strike threat still stands

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SINTA president Samson Faisi says if  the dues were not paid today, the planned strike will definitely come into force.
SINTA urges gov’t to pay up today

SOLOMON Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) says plan for teachers to resume strike still stands if the remaining re-levelling teachers’ dues are not paid today.

SINTA issued the threat last week after the dues, scheduled under an agreement it signed with the Government, were not paid last Thursday.

Yesterday, SINTA president Samson Faisi reiterated the plan still stands.

“If the dues were not paid today, the planned strike will definitely come into force,” Mr Faisi said.

The Government early this week said it is committed to paying teachers’ re-levelling dues.

It said after the results of consultation with education authorities and progress the Government made with the issue, it is confident that the 2012 arrears that are due to the eligible teachers will be paid within the timeframe as stated in the Agreement with SINTA.

The Government added it anticipates a submission of 353 teachers employed by seven education authorities to the Ministry of Finance and Treasury; to receive their 2013 arrears and regraded to their new pay levels at the teachers’ next pay day.

“When these verification and consultation processes are completed, estimated 2,753 teachers only will be appointed and eligible for regrading to their new pay levels in accordance to the 2012 Teachers Handbook,” it said.

Mr Faisi said the government’s explanation has nothing to do with SINTA.

“It has been explained plain and clear during the negotiations from our side thus it is the sole responsibility of the government to live up to what has been agreed upon and signed.”

He said excuses made are mere jokes, which simply showed that there are people who are not doing their work within the relevant ministry.

“Our concern is why the government breached the consent order by the Trade Disputes Panel and the signed MOU which we believe is a legal instrument that they should live up to.

“This in SINTA’s view is already a breach of agreement and government’s failure for not taking seriously of teachers’ issue.”

Mr Faisi said the SINTA executive met and resolved that the government must pay up the remaining teachers’ re-levelling salary by deadline (today).

Failure, he said, would result in a case filed against the Government and a nation-wide strike reactivated.

He said the assurance given by the government to pay up the remaining teachers re-levelling salary in their next pay day is unacceptable “but we will maintain our stand on the deadline which is today”.

“It is proper that the government addresses the re-levelling exercise now because SINTA does not want things to be mixed up with the issue of outstanding arrears.

“Thus we are calling on the government to consider when it is right to do so.”

Mr Faisi added that if the government does not pay by today, SINTA will be calling an urgent extraordinary meeting for all teachers this Friday.

“The strike is still fresh and if we get the support from the teachers then definitely we will not hesitate to call for a nationwide strike.”

By Bradford Theonomi