Teacher unions label pay raise offer as unreasonable

June 17, 2024 4:20 pm

Fiji Teachers Union General Secretary Muniappa Goundar, Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad and FTA General Secretary Paula Manumanunitoga

The Ministry of Finance had offered around seven percent increase in salaries for teachers, but it has not settled well with the Fiji Teachers Union and Fijian Teachers Association.

The two teacher unions have labelled the offer as ridiculous, considering that teachers’ have not been given a raise amid the high cost of living over the last 17 years.

As a result of their discontentment over the outcome of their meet with the Finance Ministry, the teachers unions will continue to pursue a secret ballot for a potential strike.

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FTA General Secretary Paula Manumanunitoga says the government has to listen to their plight, if it wants to avoid the strike.

“For instance, he was offering a 5% increase. He was talking about 4, 5, 6% increase. Now, what difference would that make to a person’s salary? Just a few dollars? Probably $10 at the most. That’s ridiculous. And we’re not going to accept that.”

Manumanunitoga says if the government can allocate funds for the increase in salaries for parliamentarians amounting to $8.1 million, then it should also have funds to meet their demand.

The sentiments were echoed by Fiji Teachers Union General Secretary Muniappa Goundar, saying that a pay raise will address the exodus of teachers.

“I believe the state must ensure that we are able to retain teachers, otherwise a day is going to come when we will be having students in classrooms without teachers. The latest data that I received, I got from the Ministry of Education on Friday in regards to the resignation and migration of teachers is almost 100 per month.”

In response, Minister for Finance, Professor Biman Prasad says the government will carefully consider any allocation for a raise in pay for the civil service.

Professor Prasad says it is still working out the quantum which will be announced in the upcoming budget.

As negotiations on the matter continue, FTU and FTA are waiting approval of their secret ballot from the Employment Ministry and they are confident that they will obtain a majority vote to carry out an industrial action.