Educational syndicates call for nationwide sit-in [Archives:2008/1132/Local News]

February 25 2008

Almigdad Dahesh Mojalli
SANA'A, Feb 20 ) The Yemeni Teachers Syndicate and the Syndicate of Educational Professions released a statement calling for all Yemeni teachers to stage a one day sit-in on Tuesday, February 26, to force the government to raise their salaries.

The call for the sit-in came on Monday, after the extension to the negotiating period ended.

The statement said that the government had not responded to teachers' demands to raise their annual wages within the month. The two syndicates decided to call for nationwide peaceful sit-ins. The statement indicated that while the government procrastinates from meeting the rights of the employees, claiming it is unable to curb the price hikes, it continues to operate as usual. The statement mentioned that the government neither appreciates the nature of teaching nor the significance of the teacher, who is the cornerstone of education. “This negligence has led to the constant decline in the quality of education,” said the statement.

The syndicates demanded that the government give teachers a 60 to 110 percent raise in their standing basic salaries, including YR 130,000 ($600) a month in back pay beginning from the middle of 2007, and release the annual bonuses suspended by a governmental decision in 2005.

The statement also asked the government to provide rural living expenses for the teachers who teach in rural areas, in accordance with the teachers' law.

Moreover, the syndicates requested that local and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other syndicates sit in solidarity with the teachers. This is not the first sit-in organized by the Yemeni Teachers Syndicate. Last year the syndicate arranged many sit-ins and protests with the same demand of raising salaries. The protests forced the government to adopt a new strategy to deal with the demands, promising to raise teachers' salaries. “The government has not made radical solutions for the teachers' problems but limited ones. It gives teachers very small salary increases, which are nothing at all in proportion to the price hikes. In addition, the increases are always subject to many fines and taxes,” commented Ahmed Al-Rabahi, head of the Teachers' syndicate

He added that the maximum salary for teachers according to the law is YR 160,000, and they are asking for YR130,000, which will come to YR 70,000 after taxes and insurance are deducted. In addition, Al-Rabahi believes the numerous strikes last year in many different governorates could oblige the government to pay the teacher bonuses and back pay.

Isamail Zaidan, general manager of information for the Ministry of Education, refused to comment, while personnel manager Faisal Jameel couldn't be reached.

Abdulaziz Murshed, father of a student, supported the teachers in their demands, but at the same time is worried about his son and the other students. “I'm sure that teachers have the right to stage a sit-in because their salaries are too low due to the unbelievable price hikes. Also, every increase they get is preceded by two or three price hikes and followed by another two or three. But though they have the right to protest, students will be affected and I'm worried about that,” Murshed said.