Hundreds of teachers in Male’ have decided to go on strike on the 1st of July, demanding the Government to increase their wages to meet the rising cost of living due to inflation, according to Haveeru Online today. Read the full article here.
The aim of the strike is to protest government negligence over salaries, to bring public attention to their cause, and to lobby for a salary and benefits that can provide teachers with an “honourable living”. However depending on the education ministry’s actions in the next few days, the strike could be called off, said Minivan News. Read the full article on Minivan News here.
When the state attorneys went on strike, the Attorney General met with them and went on public record in support of the state attorneys and their cause. She said that the voices of the state attorneys need to be heard and appropriate measures introduced to compensate for their workload and working conditions.
In contrast, the Minister of Education went on record condemning a possible strike by teachers, which is customary of the recent trends in the Ministry of Education, ever since a salary overhaul of the government staff which saw the declining of salaries of teachers since the mid 90s. The Civil Sevice Commission headed by the former Minister of Education and with former Deputy Minister of Education and other former senior officials of the Ministry of Education, which is charged with executing government policy went on the offensive against teachers. They implied that action can be taken against teachers who stepped out of line.
However, now the CSC has toned town its rhetoric and says that it gets its policy direction from the President through his cabinet ministers and is responsible for the execution of government policy. Its spokesman is reported to have said that the Ministry of Education is responsible for dealing with the strike.
The leaders of the newly formed Association for Teachers’ Link will definitely face the heat when things settle down, but the effectiveness of a possible strike is yet to be seen. The Parliamnent is also believed to have pulled ranks behind the government in a bid to disallow a possible salary rise for teachers, sighting fiscal issues. There is rumors that they will form a “Pay Commission” which legal observers say is not a mandate of the Parliamnet, as it would be an executive function of the government.
It would be interesting to see how this one is dealt with by the government and parliament. Any punitive action that is taken collectively against the teachers by the government or parliament is definitely going to have repercussions in the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. Teachers can very well control about a quarter of the total vote in all constituencies outside Male’. They may not have the right to take part in political activism, but they definitely will exercise their right to be heard.