Provincial Teachers Join Capital Strike

Hundreds of striking high school and university teachers in Phnom Penh were joined yesterday by the capital’s primary teachers and educators in at least three other provinces demanding higher salaries, according to Bun Sok, undersecretary of state for education (CPP).

He said only a handful of primary schools were open in Phnom Penh on Wednesday and that an unknown number of teachers in Battambang, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap were also on strike.

The teachers’ demands are being studied by a working group

—comprised of representatives from the Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance—which is to send Hun Sen a plan to end the work stoppage.

The proposal, if approved, will allow representatives of the teachers to negotiate with Deputy Prime Minister Tol Lah as they requested and send a thank you to teachers who did not go on strike. It does not mention money specifically.

Teacher representatives boycotted a scheduled meeting with Ministry of Education officials Tuesday, insisting on a meeting with Tol Lah.

The plan also proposes several broadcasts on TVK including an appeal to teachers to be patient, an explanation from the Finance Ministry of the national budget, a presentation from the 12 Phnom Penh parliamentarians explaining the situation to voters, and a request from Tol Lah for teachers to go back to work.

Teachers have not been informed of the proposal. Lau Xi Iau, the director of the study bureau of the Royal University Phnom Penh, said he was unaware of it.

Teachers currently are being paid $15 to $20 (57,000 to 76,000 riel) a month and are demanding a raise to $315.89 a month. The government offered a $5 monthly “bonus” to teachers on Jan 15 after threats of strikes from teachers at several schools in the capital.

(Additional reporting by Deutsche Presse Agentur)

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