Temporary solution to Yemeni teachers’ protracted problems [Archives:2007/1109/Local News]

December 6 2007

By: Saddam Al-Ashmori
For The Yemen Times

Although the government has agreed to meet with the Yemeni Teacher's Syndicate later this month to discuss their problems, more demonstrations flared in Dhamar governorate, leading to the arrest of several teachers.

SANA'A, Dec. 4 ) Teachers in Dhamar weren't as lucky as those in Sana'a in their protest against low wages. After taking to the streets in peaceful protest on Wednesday, security arrested dozens of demonstrating teachers.

The Dhamar protestors thought all was well as they marched to the governor's office and met with the general secretariat of the local council, who sympathized with their needs and forwarded a memo to the prime minister on their behalf.

Ahmed Al-Rubahi, chairman of the Yemeni Teachers Syndicate, stated, “These arrests are a legal and constitutional breach. We call on all human rights groups to stand against such violations and demand the immediate release of the teachers in Dhamar.”

Sana'a rally

Following a peaceful rally in Sana'a – which wasn't expected to occur due to heightened security measures – leaders from the Sana'a branch of the Yemeni Teachers Syndicate have agreed to meet with government representatives on the third Wednesday of this month. The meeting will be an opportunity for the teachers' representatives to outline their demands to the government in an attempt to reach a satisfactory solution.

As a result of the demonstration, Al-Rubahi noted that he and his deputy met Education Minister Abdulsalam Al-Jawfi and Civil Service Minister Khalid Al-Sufi, who agreed to sit with them at a later time due to the ministers' current involvement in Cabinet meetings.

However, it took hundreds of teachers marching in the streets Tuesday for this promise to come forth. Beginning from Tahrir Square, the marchers passed Parliament and ended at Freedom Square in front of the Yemeni Cabinet.

The protesting teachers carried satirical banners reading, “Save us from hallucination! Give us money to buy food!” and “Students, your government is killing education!” among other slogans.

Syndicate Chairman Al-Rubahi went on to say that the Yemeni government has ignored the teachers' demands, which is causing the Yemeni educational process to fail, as well as harming the Yemeni community. If the government doesn't respond to the teachers' legal demands, he threatened, a comprehensive strike will be instituted.

“The syndicate will continue protesting tomorrow in Dhamar governorate, expanding to other governorates until the teachers' full demands are met. This is being done because the Yemeni government has tampered with and escaped from the concerned parties,” he explained.

The Dhamar demonstration ended in the arrest of several protesting teachers.

Teachers' demands

Addressing the teachers gathering in Freedom Square, Al-Rubahi said, “Demands are granted via conducting such peaceful sit-ins and demonstrations. If such vehement demand continues, the government will respond to any demand willy-nilly.” He further called on all segments of society to maintain solidarity with the teachers to improve their living standards.

Ibrahim Al-Uthmi, an administrative member at the syndicate, said, “Improving teachers' situations is better than wasting money in a futile manner,” hinting at privileges such as cars granted to influential figures.

Al-Uthmi further emphasized the importance of distributing jobs and money fairly, as well as increasing the maximum wage level to YR 100,000 in the second round of increases and YR 130,000 in the third.

Moreover, teachers urge Yemen's prime minister to promptly approve the second round of wage increases beginning from July 2006 and the third round from this past July, along with their differences.

In a statement distributed at the sit-in square, the teachers demand the Yemeni government grant them their entitled wages and differences associated with work beginning from July 2005 through August 2006 under the Wages and Salaries Law. They further demand increasing their salaries 60 percent to 110 percent.

Old promises

According to minutes signed July 31 of this year by the Yemeni Teachers Syndicate and the appropriate committee within the Education Ministry, granting suspended wages to those deprived of them includes inspectors, administrative staff and illiteracy and Qur'anic teachers, among others.

Additionally, the teachers' statement demands implementing a judicial verdict issued early last month regarding paying teachers for their work, as well as paying their annual bonuses from 2005 to 2007.

The teachers urge the appropriate parties to pay them according to their qualifications and years of service, in addition to ceasing all arbitrary actions against them, which prevent them from conducting peaceful protests and exercising their constitutionally guaranteed rights.