Striking Teachers Ready for Talks On Pay Arrears

UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 3 October 2002

Bangui—Striking teachers in the Central African Republic said on Wednesday they were ready to negotiate with government over salary arrears and end their protest.

If the government made a positive move, teachers, who are responsible people, would understand the economic, financial and social problems of the country and revise their claims, Malachie Mbokane, the chairman of the InterfĂ©dĂ©rale des Enseignents des Centrafrique—a confederation of five teachers' unions—told IRIN.

Primary and secondary teachers are calling on the government honour a deal with the unions in 2000 for the gradual payment of 28 months of salary arrears after an immediate settlement of 12 months' back pay.

Only three months were paid. We are claiming the salaries for the remaining nine, Mbokane said.

He added that 30 percent of the teachers were given one month's salary before schools reopened on Tuesday, ending the long holidays.

The eight-day nationwide strike of some 7,000 teachers that began on Tuesday and would continue, he said, if the government remained silent.

Primary school teachers earn 80,000 CFA francs a month (US $120.36) and secondary teachers 100,000 francs ($150.46), the director of primary and secondary education at the Ministry of National Education, Jonas Guezewane, said. Downplaying the impact of the strike, he said 20 percent of the 5,084 primary school teachers and 30 percent of the 4,000 secondary school teachers were participating in the action.