Two Rounds of Strike Talks End in Stalemate

Teacher representatives met for two hours Tuesday in two separate meetings with Deputy Prime Minister Tol Lah, but officials said no progress was made in ending the one-week-old strike.

Technology Insti­tute students continued to rally and burn tires Tuesday in Phnom Penh, while students at the Royal University of Phnom Penh were expected to follow suit this morning.

“We are keeping our stand to strike until we receive a good solution from the government,” Ly Phatsem, a university mathematics professor, said after talks Tuesday morning.

Tol Lah, also the education minister, met for two hours with representatives of the university and the technology institute, then held another two-hour meeting with representatives from Phnom Penh and provincial high schools, officials said.

Pok Than, secretary of state for education, agreed that no pro­gress was made. He said the government is maintaining its original position to grant only a 20,000 riel (about $5) monthly bonus.

“We are worried that the strike is going on,” Pok Than said, but reiterated that the Ministry has no power to solve the problem. He said demands by the teachers at Tuesday’s meeting would be forwarded to other senior government officials.

Var Semsamreth, director of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said teacher representatives in the meeting repeated their demands for a salary in­crease to about $300 a month.

“The teacher representatives asked the government to explain how they can live with a salary of a $20 per month,” Var Semsam­reth said.

At the technology institute, about 120 students rallied and burned tires in support of the teachers for the second consecutive day.

The strike, which started Jan 25, has affected at least 12 prov­inces, according to reports gathered by the rights group Licadho

 

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