A strike planned by the Cambodian Independent Teachers’ Association set for early to mid February to demand a salary increase has been postponed in consideration of the violence that erupted during anti-Thai riots last week, union officials said Tuesday.
“I informed all teachers across the country to please keep quiet without demonstration and strike against the government. This time it is due to the strong riots against the Thai embassy,” CITA President Rong Chhun said Tuesday.
Following so closely on the heels of the youth-led aggression against numerous Thai-owned businesses last week, Rong Chhun said the tense environment in Cambodia would only be exacerbated by a teachers strike. He said he feared the teachers demonstration would distract lawmakers from repairing the country’s strained relationship with Thailand.
“We are still keeping our strikes in mind, but we first have to think about the Cambodian situation,” Rong Chhun said. “Cambodian leaders are busy solving the problem [with Thailand].”
Although teachers will remain in their classrooms, their minds will remain on their low salaries, he added.
“Their salaries are so cheap that they can’t feed themselves and their families,” Rong Chhun said.
But some teachers do not feel confident rejoining the movement.
Khtor primary school teacher Seng Leang said she and her colleagues support CITA’s work but are too afraid of being fired to strike.
“The chief of Meanchey district and Khtor primary school called me and warned me that I’d be fired from work if I rejoined the strike,” Seng Leang said.
Rong Chhun has called the action discriminatory, according to the Constitution.
“I acknowledge that teachers were warned [by] their director. This is a human rights abuse committed by school directors,” he said.