Amid strict security proceduresTeachers stage huge sit-in [Archives:2006/970/Front Page]

August 7 2006

By: Mohammed Al-Jabri
SANA'A, Aug. 5 ) Hundreds of Yemeni teachers staged huge sit-ins Saturday and Sunday in protest against government in implementing the teachers' wage law strategy. More than 5,000 teachers from numerous governorates congregated in the capital city of Sana'a, accusing the government of not applying the wage law strategy.

Yemeni Teachers Syndicate president Ahmed Al-Rabahi affirmed that a delegation of teachers' syndicates headed for the President's Office, where they met with deputy manager Abdul-Hadi Al-Hamadani. “We have submitted our demands to President Ali Abdullah Saleh via Al-Hamadani,” he noted.

Al-Rabahi warned that if their demands aren't fulfilled, teachers will resume protests. He affirmed that Yemeni teachers' status isn't encouraging amid skyrocketing prices, which in turn “affect teachers' performance.”

Reluctant government

Some members of Parliament expressed solidarity with the teachers as they attended the sit-ins. MP Aidarous Al-Naqeeb affirmed that the teachers' demands are legal and not difficult, but those directing the state complain of lack of financial resources. “If 10 junior corrupt individuals of the state are tried, the teachers' problem will be solved,” he suggested.

Al-Naqeeb added that the government sells oil at $42 per barrel and “if it allocated just $1 for teachers, there would be no problem.” He stressed that Yemeni teachers belong to the poorest class and, even if applied, the wage strategy couldn't meet their full rights.

MP Fouad Dahaba criticized government's delay in fulfilling the teachers' demands, asking, “We don't know – what makes the government procrastinate?” He further noted that the government will respect teachers' legal demands only if ministers send their children to study in public schools in order to experience the sufferings of Yemeni teachers.

Yahya Al-Hakim, head of the Technical and Vocational Education Syndicate, pointed out that teachers can't afford high prices, especially after skyrocketing oil prices in 2005. “Teachers today are unable to cope with life's difficulties and provide food, housing and clothing for their children,” he added.

The protests were in response to the three Yemeni teachers' syndicates' call to renew protests because the government continues delaying fulfillment of their demands. On March 28, teachers nationwide staged huge demonstrations for the same reason, while government took arbitrary and abusive measures against them.

On April 2, a delegation from the three teachers' syndicates met with President Saleh, who promised to ask the government to look into their case, but the government hasn't done anything regarding their demands.