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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Solomons Teachers May Renew Strike Over Delayed Pay
State allegedly fails to honor agreement made just 3 weeks ago

By Bradford Theonomi

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 22, 2013) – Teachers in the Solomon Islands have threatened to stage another nation-wide strike after the second lot of payments the Government promised went undelivered yesterday.

Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) President Samson Faisi said if this second payment is not made by next Friday, teachers will either go on strike again or take the government to court.

"Government’s failure to pay teachers their due this week was a breach of the agreement we signed some three weeks ago," Mr. Faisi said.

The first lot of teachers got their re-leveling pay two weeks ago, according to the agreement; the second lot should get theirs this week.

Mr. Faisi said the Government’s failure to stick to the agreement clearly shows its attitude and lack of appreciation towards the teaching profession.

"And yet the prime minister can find it very easy to dish our SB$1 million [US$136,700] in hard cash to a cultural group on Guadalcanal. If they can do that, why is it so difficult to pay teachers their due?"

Mr. Faisi said their lawyer has already written to the government on the issue.

He claimed teachers nationwide are not hesitant to go on strike again if the government wants to play with them.

The president said under their agreement with the government, teachers re-leveling pays would be made during pays days in February.

"Our back-dated pay arrears were scheduled to be paid on March 7. But with this delay, it looks very doubtful."

Mr. Faisi urged the government to stick to the agreement and meets its commitment.

Supervising Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education Timothy Ngelle said all payments to teachers have been forwarded to the Ministry of Finance to process.

"As far as we are concerned, all payments should be processed and made to teachers as agreed," he said. "If there’s a delay, it may be due to some hiccups somewhere."

Mr. Ngelle said the re-leveling dues raised were for teachers between levels 4 and 7.

He explained some teachers may likely to be missed out in the process but this does not mean they are totally left out.

"As soon as an updated date is produced by their responsible education authorities, they’ll be paid their re-leveling dues," Mr. Ngelle said.

Permanent Secretary of Finance Shadrack Fanega could not be reached for comments yesterday despite attempts to talk to him.

In the agreement between SINTA and the government signed on February 4, the government shall facilitate and complete the appointment of teachers on the following grounds:

  • By identifying teachers entitled to be appointed in accordance with the structure in the 2012 teachers’ handbook as approved by cabinet; and,
  • Shall cause the necessary appointments of teachers so identified to be made by the teaching service commission as soon as possible.

Upon completion of the appointment of teachers, government shall cause to be paid to teachers the following salaries and arrears:

  • All outstanding salaries and arrears due to teachers in 2013 pursuant to the new level shall be paid to teachers in full on the 7th and 21st of February 2013; and,
  • Arrears accrued in 2012 shall be backdated to February 2012, which arrears shall be paid by 1st pay period of March 2013 being 7th March 2013 but not later than 21st March.

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