30 Jul 2013

Solomon Islands teachers end strike

4:42 pm on 30 July 2013

Teachers in Solomon Islands have returned to school after ending a two-week strike over relevelling dues.

The Solomon Islands National Teachers Association or SINTA was ordered by Justice Rex Foukona to call off the strike by last Thursday night, after the government took the issue to the High Court.

Justice Foukona has also ordered the government to meet all outstanding wage commitments by 8 August and for any problems to be rectified by 22 August.

The Industrial Relations Officer for SINTA, Samson Faisi, told Beverley Tse why the strike has been called off.

SAMSON FAISI: We agree that we will call off the strike provided that the government must agree to pay all those who are yet to be relevelled and those who are yet to be given the increments with all arrears. It must be paid by 8 August. And we also put to the government in the high court order that all teachers who are involved in the strike, their salaries will not be deducted and they will not be disciplined for this strike that they have taken.

BEVERLEY TSE: So were you pleased with the outcome?

SF: We were pleased with the outcome, especially when it was put straight to the attorney general and the legal counsel for the government that their application was flawed and it has no footing. That's what the justice said at that time. The judge found that it's flawed and it has no footing or it has no basis. They admitted that they are behind the schedules of payment for teachers and they have failed to implement the rest of the exercise as was provided to under the last MOAs.

BT: Now, last week the government claimed they had paid the first 21 educational authorities. Did that payment go through?

SF: Not all of them received their payment. In fact, it was full of errors. So that is also a point that we reaised with the court, and they have also put that in part of their order. They said all the prison authorities must be paid by 8 August and any left over or any discrepancies noticed from those payments they must be paid by 22 August.

BT: And how confident are you the government will respect the court order?

SF: So far we have very little confidence in them. We only hope that they do what they say and they live up to what the High Court of Solomon Islands decided. So if the government is responsible and respectful enough to its own judicial arm, they must learn to respect that order.

BT: What is SINTA prepared to do if the government does not respect the court order and does not complete all the payments by 22 August?

SF: Well, under that High Court order, there'll be a review on 29 August. It is open for SINTA to call a strike. It's still a part that we need to play if the government continues doing that same mistake of prolonging the whole issue. So to call another strike, it's still open for SINTA.

Samson Faisi says some teachers are resentful as they have not achieved all they set out to do in the strike.