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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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

Solomon Islands Teachers Vote For Strike
Association calls on parents, students to join sit-in

By Jennifer Kakai

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Jan. 26, 2013) – Solomon Islands teachers voted to stage a nation-wide strike starting Monday next week.

The decision was reached during a meeting the Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA) organised in Honiara yesterday.

The decision will have a huge effect on the school year, which has already been delayed by a week.

SINTA president Samson Faisi said instead of teachers attending classes next week, they will stage a sit-in protest at the Solomon Islands Public Employees Union (SIPEU) ground Honiara.

"This sit-in protest will continue until the national government pays up our dues," Mr Faisi said.

Last February, cabinet approved and endorsed the payment of teachers re-levelling exercise, but has failed to allocate money for this.

SINTA general secretary Johnley Hatimoana said teachers should not have any conscience of guilt over their decision to go on strike.

"We are not guilty of anything. It’s the government that is guilty of failing to fulfil its promise to teachers," Mr Hatimoana told teachers yesterday.

"As professionals, we must take a strong stand.

"We have had enough of the government’s excuses and will no longer tolerate this."

Mr Faisi encourages parents and teachers to join them in their sit-in protest next week at the SIPEU grounds.

SINTA is expected to inform its members nation-wide through the radio of its decision.

But last night, the Government said it had taken steps to avert a nation-wide strike by the teachers and will refer the dispute to the Trade Dispute Panel this morning.

A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet said that the Attorney General was preparing a referral to the TDP and urges all teachers to return to work.

"All Secretaries of Education Authorities and teachers are urged to listen out for a public announcement on the next steps in accordance to section 10 notice from the Chairperson of the TDP," the statement said.

"Section 10 states that once the matter is referred to the panel all parties to the dispute must return to work, in this case, all teachers must return to work by Monday 28 January 2013.

"The Government has responded positively to the demand by SINTA for implementation of the Teachers’ Scheme of Service as per 2012 Teachers’ Handbook in terms of re-leveling of entry points of teachers.

"However SINTA advised that the re-leveling has to be addressed along with the arrears for 2012 before 7 February 2013."

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