The Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association issued a warning to Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday that teachers nationwide will strike if the Ministry of Education does not disburse wages owed.
The Association’s chapter in Pailin, where members say the situation is most dire, has announced that its walkout will commence Monday.
Chhuon Narun, Pailin teachers’ union director, said that many teachers there come from outside the area, so when they are not paid, they do not have family support to fall back on.
“We have waited for three months already. Right now we cannot wait anymore because we don’t have the money to support our living standard,” he said Thursday.
He said the strike will begin at Hun Sen Tepnimet High School and spread to other schools.
Nuon Nhim, director of Pailin’s Education Department, said Thursday that salary disbursal has been delayed because 37 new teachers, who graduated from pedagogy schools in early 2003, have joined the payroll.
He said his department now has to apply for a larger budget from the Ministry of Finance to pay all of its teachers.
The teachers are owed three months’ salary and six months of overtime bonuses, Nuon Nhim said. He said his department does not have the money to pay the teachers now but that it will come.
“Cambodia is a developing country. Our country is still poor so the teachers should wait to hold the strike…. I have appealed to the students’ parents to share their rice and money with the teachers to support their living standard,” he added.
The teachers’ union president, Rong Chhun, said Thursday that, following the expected Pailin strike, teachers will begin walking out of schools across the country if no agreement is reached.
The Ministry of Education’s director general of administration and finance, Chhay Aun, said Thursday that his department is trying to solve the dispute but declined to comment further.
Teachers throughout the country are paid about $25 per month. In recent years, the Association has urged the government to raise salaries to $100 per month.