13 Feb 2003

Fiji teachers threaten protest action against government plans to downsize the public service

4:47 pm on 13 February 2003

Fiji teachers have threatened to protest against the government's decision not to renew work contracts for 200 temporary teachers as part of its plans to cut the public service.

The Fiji Teachers Union says the government action would spark protest action by students, parents and teachers.

The government says the teacher cutback is part of plans to lay off 2-thousand public servants to save money.

The Union's general secretary, Agno Deo Singh, says the loss of the temporary teachers, who make up a quarter of all staff, will force schools to send thousands of students home and close classrooms.

Mr Singh says the government has been given until next week to find the funds for temporary teachers.

"If the Ministry of Finance cannot come up with funds we will be expecting a very strong protest from school management as well as the teachers union. Next week we will be expecting teachers to walk out of classrooms, we will be expecting parents to be protesting in the schools and the situtaion si going to be chaotic."

Agno Deo Singh of the Fiji Teachers Union