16 Oct 2002

Solomon Islands teachers will to discuss their strike tomorrow

5:30 pm on 16 October 2002

Teachers in Solomon Islands will meet tomorrow to consider whether to continue with an indefinite strike which began eight days ago.

The teachers went on strike after having partially withdrawn their services over the previous 11 weeks because of the government's failure to pay their wages on time.

A payment was received yesterday but the teachers still have four weeks wages outstanding while they are also due their normal pay tomorrow.

The Minister of Education Mathias Taro says the teachers deserve to be paid but little progress can be made until there is an economic upturn.

He says the Cabinet is now directly handling all government payments after the harassment of Finance Ministry employees.

But Mr Taro says who they can pay is dependent on cash flow.

"The number one priority at the moment in the country is to pay work people, that is including teachers , ah but then it depends on cash flow, so when we do not have enough then that is when we drag on these payments and so on"

Mathias Taro, who rejects criticism from the Solomon Islands Christian Association that the Government is not sharing the pain.

He says parliamentarians have not been paid since the second week of September.