The Solomon Islands National Teachers Association, SINTA, has agreed to extend its strike notice from Thursday this week to the 13th July.In a general meeting held in Honiara yesterday, the more than fifty delegates who attended the meeting voted for the extension but vowed that they would not return to work if they were to take strike action on the 13th of July, until money was actually paid to them.
SINTA which represents more than four thousand primary and secondary school teachers are demanding that the Government honors an MOU signed with SINTA in January of this year to implement the Teachers Handbook and the Teachers Scheme of Service.
SINTA's Industrial Relations Officer, John Lee Hatimoana, told the teachers that that he was doing his best to negotiate with the Government for the benefit of the teachers. But he stated that he is disappointed at how the Government is dealing with the issues.
"Government is always asking teachers to give them time in order for them to work on implementing teachers demand. But how can teachers wait in view of the fact that many teachers have been receiving very low pay while senior Government officials are enjoying their high salaries," said Mr Hatimoana.
"Teachers, you are fighting for your rights and if the Government never implements what they had promised you, then you can go on strike because there are 6,744 teachers throughout the country and if you cooperate together the Government would do something to quickly implement our outstanding issues."
One frustrated teacher stated that he wants all teachers not to go back to work unless they see something on their pay slip. "It is such a long time and we have been very patient, when they promised us changes we faithfully returned to work, but from now we cannot get back to work unless the government sorts out the issues."
Spokesperson for the Principals Association, Samson Faisi, strongly urged teachers to cooperate as the Government will take notice if they stand united. Faisi appealed to all teachers to be strong, stay united and address the issue.
Faisi said that SINTA is trying its best to address the issue and it seems the government has never bothered to address it quickly. Faisi says it's been months now, after the signing of the MOU, but nothing has happened. He acknowledged Mr Hatimoana for his hard work in negotiating and dealing with the Government.