Education

Unions strike proposal enters last phase

June 13, 2024 6:46 am

The Fiji Teachers Union and the Fijian Teachers Association

The Fiji Teachers Union and the Fijian Teachers Association are awaiting approval from the Ministry of Employment to proceed with their secret ballot process for a possible industrial action.

The Ministry of Employment was given a 21-day notice last Friday to approve or deny the unions’ request for the secret ballot.

The teachers are considering strike action as they are unhappy with their pay and working conditions.

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FTU General Secretary Muniappa Goundar states that if approved, they will conduct their secret ballot on July 6th at 16 centers nationwide.

“We will wait for the outcome from them now and we have also given a copy to the Ministry of Education. Now the ball is in their court, how they will play it out and there is a Saturday that we are looking at.”

Fijian Teacher Association General Secretary Paula Manumanunitoga says the last salary increase for teachers occurred 19 years ago, making the proposed pay raise essential.

“What we are crying, what we are saying, what they are asking the government is justified enough, it is justified. I have told some people, you cannot quarrel with me, you cannot say that I am just plucking things out of thin air and making up my story because this is a fact. The fact is teachers are not well paid in this country.”

Manumanunitoga says many teachers are struggling to make ends meet.

“More than 60 percent of the teachers have their ATM cards, bank cards with money lenders. Now we say that the teaching profession is a noble profession, ok, how noble is that that you cannot survive in between pays, from this pay to the next pay, you are unable to feed your families.”

A 30 percent salary increase would raise the starting rate for teachers with certificates from $18,000 to $23,000.