Solomons' government happy teachers strike has ended | Pacific Beat

Solomons' government happy teachers strike has ended

Solomons' government happy teachers strike has ended

Updated 5 February 2013, 20:10 AEDT

The Solomon Islands' government has pledged to stand by its memorandum of understanding on teachers wages.

While the school year was supposed to start last week, Solomons' teachers refused to return to class unless the government payed them what they say many of them are still owed since last year in wages and entitlements.

The MOU was signed on Monday night, and today the schools have reopened.

The government wants a review of the teachers and their positions before they make any payments, and as well, it is warning all teachers to abide by the agreement.

But, as the Attorney General of Solomon Islands Billy Titiulu told Pacific Correspondent Campbell Cooney, they are happy the strike is over.

Presenter: Campbell Cooney

Speaker:The Solomon Islands' Attorney General Billy Titiulu

TITIULU: Yes definitely the strike had meant that the children were not able to attend the school on the scheduled time, which is already over a week ago. So on that front we really are pleased the teachers have accepted as further instalments in which they would receive their payments. So it's a very good result yes, we're very pleased with that.

COONEY: When do you see it, from the government's point of view, when will it be totally resolved?

TITIULU: The funds for payment is not actually the problem, the problem is there are certain issues that needed to be resolved, and that's why the government had initially been saying that, well give us some time so that we can resolve these issues, some of which we need to update the teacher's list of who is actually at a post, who is not, who has continued onto the next life, basically if deceased. We need to verify those things, and especially getting an updated list of teachers and from there we will proceed to make the appointments of the teachers at the appropriate levels. Once you complete the appointments only then can you calculate the arrears of the appointed teachers. So the agreement basically meant that as we go along those teachers that can be verified who are actually in a post and who are entitled will be paid their salaries at the new scale for this year by the 7th.

COONEY: The 7th of ??

TITIULU: The 7th of February, the arrears for 2012 will be paid on two dates; in March, one on the 7th, the final payment to be made on the 25th of March 2013. So the spaces are those payments for those teachers in those respects.

COONEY: I did see as well that you put a bit of a warning out there to teachers who want to keep going with their action or want to stay away, that that will not be tolerated?

TITIULU: Yes what they don't understand is that one section 10 applies that it means that any industrial action cannot take place. I refer that panel basically for two reasons; number one I want the teachers to respect that the panel is now in charge of proceedings and that they should not take further industrial action. Secondly, it's to protect themselves, that's what they don't seem to understand initially. It will also bind the government, the section10 application of the trade dispute that means I cannot terminate you as a government, we will not terminate you as long as the dispute is before the trade disputes panel. I think now they will appreciate that it was not a decision that was bad for them. This actually protects both parties, number one, calling on the teachers to go back to their schools and teach, number two, if they continue on strike and their members before the panel the government or the Teaching commission cannot terminate them yet, it's like a caveat on any further industrial action by both parties. I did warn them that should they continue, no government anywhere pay for teachers who go on strike and withdraw their services.So it's a matter for them and I think they agreed to that that they will make up for the lost time by being at school and actually teaching for a further period of I'd say like five days.

COONEY: So at the end of the school year you mean?

TITIULU: Preferably direction will come from the Ministry of Education that they do that now, probably at the end of the first term because the rationale being that some of these students who are affected by the strike will sit their exams in August-September, these are like Year 6, I think Year 12 exams. They need to complete those exams well before the end of the year, so I think the time to teach now is before those exams, to extend the teaching at the end of the year makes no sense to me.

COONEY: Resolution last night from what you understand are the teachers back?

TITIULU: Actually my office is just next to where the teachers would normally come and congregate, so it's a very good sign, there are no more red shirts here which is a good sign I think they're going to the schools, or on their way to their schools in the provinces, it's a very good sign.

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