23 Sep 2002

School exams in Solomon Islands still threatened despite

3:32 pm on 23 September 2002

The national school examinations in Solomon Islands remain under threat despite teachers returning to work today.

There has been limited industrial action by teachers since early July over the government's failure to pay their wages and allowances on time.

But teachers have returned to work after their union, the National Teachers Association, or SINTA, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government on Friday.

That has eased the concerns of parents, with national examinations due to start this week, but the general secretary for SINTA, Fred Taika, says the dispute is far from resolved.

He says SINTA was not legally able to be formally involved in the dispute until the signing of the MOU in which the government committed to five conditions, including the payment of fees to the union and one fortnight's wage arrears.

"I am still waiting for any confirmation from the Prime Minister's Office that three hundred thousand dollars that was supposed to be paid to the SINTA account last Friday, and it must be paid to the SINTA account today....also one payday should be paid to teachers' accounts today or Tuesday...failure to do so would mean that any time today or tomorrow or any time this week, SINTA might call for industrial action"

Fred Taika, who says that industrial action could mean teachers refusing to be involved in the national examinations.