However, the President of the National Teachers Association, Sampson Faisi says they are unsuccessful.
After hearing the interview with the Minister, he told Bruce Hill the teachers have decided to go on strike.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: President of the National Teachers Association, Sampson Faisi
FAISI: The story is totally differs from what actually was written on the paper. The submission, I mean the response of the Cabinet was quite different from what the Minister says, so I don't know who was telling the truth here.
HILL: So what was that the Ministry of Education officials were telling you?
FAISI: Well, in their response from the Cabinet decision reached yesterday, they gave us four options. The first one was that the government recognised and indeed agrees to pay the teachers their restructuring level backdated to April, sorry, February, 9th and the second one was the period, I mean the period of that back date of arrears is only from the 20th, sorry the 9th. February, last year, and that the government needs to relook at the listing again of the teachers from last year and it needs to go through all the lists to make sure that the list is a genuine one before they can start the process of payment. But they're meeting with all education authorities will be on the 1st. March, so we are saying here, judging from their response, it will take sometime before the government can pay the teachers. But what it falls of short of addressing was the resolution that was passed last meeting on the 18th. January, that is last week. Teachers has passed a resolution that the arrears for 2012 must be paid in full to teachers before they can go to any of the classes, if there is a call.
HILL: What the Minister was saying was that's not going to be possible, because of the whole administrative way that pay is processed. You won't be able to get your pay backdated or not until March. It's not physically possible to get to your money then. Is what he said enough if that is the government's position that they are going to pay you and backdate the pay, but they just can't get it to you until March. Is that acceptable to you or not acceptable?
FAISI: It's not acceptable, that's why teachers have voted unanimously to go on strike.
HILL: So schools are going to be closed sort of indefinitely until this is sorted out to your satisfaction basically, is that right?
FAISI: Exactly, yeah. We're just delivered, we've just delivered our letter to the responsible authority confirming the strike action that will be taken on the midnight of Sunday, this weekend.
HILL: It's a big thing to do for teachers to go on strike. We're supposed to be the first week of the school year was supposed to be this week. Kids have already had a week off school. As time drags on, is this not perhaps punishing the children, because they're the ones that really need an education?
FAISI: Exactly, in fact, it will be, it won't be good for the kids who are denied of this, but we would like to make sure that if we are talking about kids here, then what about the teachers? They are also human beings. And it wants to be the government responsibility to ensure that this does not happen. That's why we opted to go in the early start of the year, so as the government can see the starting of the year is very important for any educational institution. But the fact that they don't want to address the issue of teachers. They have been holding onto that since the passed it on February, last year. It's a different story altogether.
HILL: Well, Mr Ha'amori the Minister basically is saying that he's given into your demands and you will get your pay, but it's just that administrative reason, they can't physically get you the money that you're owed until March. I mean if this strike goes on, it might be March before it's all sorted out?
FAISI: Whatever we will maintain that stance. What we are so fond of now, Sir, we are getting used to delay tactic of the Solomon Islands Government. Factions in government, even this new one. They have always responded like that to the demands that the teachers are taking.
HILL: As well as taking this strike action, is there any other action you're going to take towards the government at all?
HILL: Is there any other action you're going to take, like I don't know, picket the Prime Minister's residence or something. I think you mentioned earlier you might do that?
FAISI: We will not do that. What we have arranged and we have informed all the teachers nationwide is that we have allocated a particular spot within, just outside of the Prime Minister's office and also near the High Court Building as well as just a few metres from the Minister of Finance. There's a private area owned by Solomon Islands Public Employers Unions and we will use that place as a place that all teachers in the capital will as of on Monday, they'll come and stick together, so that, so we show it to the government that this is a serious matter and they must address it as soon as possible.
HILL: OK. So just to recap, the Minister of Education says that the government has given in and will give you your pay, but it won't be until March that you actually receive it, but you're saying that's not good enough. You want the money right now and until then, you're on indefinite strike. Is that the situation?
FAISI: Exactly. Yeah. As I said, we are fond of this Solomon Island Government's delayed tactic and excuses and we will not buy into that anymore.
FAISI: They're saying that on March, but mark my words. It will not be on March. If they are saying that they will need to look carefully at the teachers enrolment listing by all authorities. And if they are serious as the Minister said that it's just within their needs , they need to put it off. I think to be honest with you in fact they haven't thought about this. Now the teachers are bringing it up, they just realise that yes, they have made a very big mistake. When the Minister starts to say that it was the latest delays and they didn't address it last year, maybe due to financial difficulty. No, he's telling lies. The reality was that the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Education are aware of this. Although they passed this handbook for the teachers on February 9th, in the Cabinet meeting. Little did they know that inside of that, was this restructuring and not until we took it up with them. Although we asked them many times last year. Do you know the opportunity for them to reply. They always say oh, it will come up later, but it was a total ignorance on their part