Days after Pailin teachers walked off their jobs, teachers in Battambang province are threatening to strike, Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association President Rong Chhun said Wednesday.
About 8,600 teachers in Battambang have not been paid for overtime work for nearly a year, Rong Chhun said, and if the government does not pay them quickly, they will strike, leading their counterparts nationwide to follow suit.
“We will hold a strike against the government by gathering teachers nationwide whenever we are still ignored,” he said. “We have been waiting for quite a long time for overtime payment.”
Earlier this week, teachers in Pailin held a one-day strike, demanding their salaries, which they claimed were two months’ overdue. The strike ended when government officials paid their salaries, but the Pailin teachers were not granted overtime pay and family allowances.
Rong Chhun said withheld overtime pay is a widespread problem. In Takeo province, for example, he said, teachers have not been paid overtime for about three years.
Teachers nationwide receive an average salary of about $25 per month for 16 to 18 hours of work per week. If they work overtime, high school teachers are paid about $3.30 per hour, while junior high school teachers are paid about $0.70 per hour, Rong Chhun said. Primary school teachers are not paid overtime.
“The Ministry of Education and I have tried our best to send reports, asking for money from the Ministry of Finance but they always say [there’s no money], which is why we were late in transferring money for overtime payments,” said Khoun Chhoeuth, chief of Battambang’s provincial education department.
He said the Finance Ministry had approved the overtime payments, however, and would send money to Battambang within a matter of days.
Rong Chhun said the teachers’ association would give the government some leeway, but he warned a strike could occur in the near future if its demands are not met.