More than 200 teachers at a Phnom Penh high school Wednesday entered their third day of a strike in protest of late paychecks.
The strike at Yukanthor High School in Chamkar Mon district continued this week despite a move by the Education Ministry to pay October salaries and get the teachers back into the classroom.
“The Ministry of Education has no money. We cannot solve this problem right now. Please wait just three or four days more,” Education Ministry official Kea Sahorn said.
He added that teachers should “pity the government.”
Teachers interviewed Wednesday said they decided to go on strike this week to make a point that salaries must be paid on time. Late paychecks have become a chronic problem for civil servants, who often go months without being paid by the cash-strapped government.
“Our salaries may be low, but we still need them on time,” said Ouk Kosal, a 12th-grade literature teacher.
In an attempt to get classes going again, Kea Sahorn said, the Education Ministry paid the teachers their salaries for October, worth about 10 million riel ($2,560). A teacher’s salary ranges between 60,000 and 80,000 riel ($15 and $20) per month, he said.
But the teachers were unimpressed with the move. They want their paychecks for November as well, they said. They also want Education Ministry officials to come to the school and formally promise that salaries will be paid on time.
Kea Sahorn did not comment on the request for an agreement. He said a request has been put in to the Finance Ministry for the cash for November’s paychecks, but it will take several days.
Meanwhile Yukanthor students said they were not pleased with the unexpected holiday.
“We are disappointed, but we will come to school everyday and hope there are classes,” said Chhum Ratana, an 11th-grade student.