The Cambodian Independent Teachers Association has set a strike date of Feb 1 if the government fails to meet its demand for a salary increase.
CITA has sent two statements to the government pointing out that the cost of purchasing items and services, such as meat, vegetables, gasoline, electricity and medical treatment, has tripled since 1996.
The government in 1999 raised teacher salaries from between 30,000 riel ($7.70) to 100,000 riel ($25.60) per month on a sliding scale based on the size of the teacher’s family.
The association, which claims 400 members in Phnom Penh and in the provinces of Preah Vihear, Battambang, Kampot and Kompong Cham, is seeking 400,000 riel per month (about $100) effective Jan 1.
“If there is no response from the government, I will write letters to all schools in the country [asking them] to join a strike,” CITA chief Rong Chhun said.
Government education adviser Chhay Yiheang said he hopes the members of the association change their mind.
“It is not to the benefit of the students. Both sides should negotiate peacefully,” he said. “The workers of all establishments face financial problems.”
Rong Chhun, who teaches 12th grade at Hun Sen High School in Saang district in Kandal province, said his salary is cut further by questionable payments he is asked to make.
“I am asked to give 200 riel to the CPP district office, and 300 riel to the accountant who brings us our salary to pay for his gasoline,” Rong Chhun said.
“Teachers in the school dislike it, but they are scared. I once protested against this, but I was accused of opposing the party.”