Fine Arts Teachers Demonstrate, Burn Tires, Over Wages

About 180 teachers at the Royal University of Fine Arts went on strike Wednesday, picketing and setting tires ablaze at the north campus over salary cuts related to government pay reforms.

The teachers say they plan to demonstrate again today, but this time the job action will be organized at both the north and south campuses.

Kea Rotha, a theater teacher who represents the strikers, said those affected include teachers of archeology, plastic arts, circus performance skills, Bassac theater, architecture and Khmer traditional music.

The teachers say they have taught at the university for be­tween seven years and 15 years each, and all had been classified as “teachers.” But last Friday, 85 percent discovered they had been reclassified as “staff” at lower rates of pay, teachers say.

“We earned from [about $25.64 to $35.90] when we were teachers, but now we have been transferred to simple staffers, making [about $17.95 to $25.64], Kea Ro­tha said. Proeung Chhieng, vice rector at the university and dean of choreographic arts, said the ministry tried to organize an information session with teachers last month. The meeting never took place and, Proeung Chhieng acknowledged, the teachers are now confused and angry.

He said Wednesday he plans to discuss the situation with Minister of Culture Princess Norodom Bopha Devi before her departure tonight on a trip to Japan.

The government announced earlier this month it will increase pay for classroom teachers as opposed to those working in school administration.

Many teachers have not been paid in several months and some teachers and some students no longer go to class, Proeung Chhieng said.


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