27 Jul 2005

Tonga teachers join civil servants' strike

9:49 am on 27 July 2005

Tonga government schools closed yesterday when over 1400 teachers joined a national strike of civil servants.

More than 2,000 striking public servants in Tonga say they will not return to work until they are given a wage increase of up to 80 percent.

The workers originally went on strike following a hefty wage rise for senior public servants, calling for the raises to be cut.

After the last two days when most teachers stayed home in support of the strike, the government decided to bring the August school holidays forward

It hopes the strike will be resolved by the time students return to school on the 9th of August.

Meanwhile , the strikers say they are concerned that unqualified staff may be put in by government to keep Tonga's ports of entry open, and they warn that that planes and ships might be stranded.

However, Air New Zealand flights to Tonga have arrived and departed as scheduled since the strike began on Friday.

Passenger baggage is being cleared, but there have been problems with commercial cargo, which cannot be cleared at the moment.