Teachers return to school but will keep on ‘fighting’
Teachers on Tuesday went back to their posts. Although they have little confidence in the government, they have decided to give the result that the unions have achieved a chance. The unions have reportedly decided to give the government until January 2017 to implement the salary adjustment. At the end of October, November and December the teachers will also receive the financial provisions that they were supposed to get in August and September. They will also receive the salary adjustment with retroactive effect in January 2017. Wilgo Valies, chairman of the Teachers’ Association (BvL) and the Alliance for Teachers in Suriname (ALS), pointed out that this is the first step towards improvement of teachers’ financial position.
He made it clear that the unions would closely follow the government’s actions on the matter. “We are entering a new phase: a phase where we will force them to respect us. The unions will take a firm stance if the government once again fails to keep its word.” Valies also told the union members that he has made it clear to the government during the talks that the unions do not condone the way teachers are treated and that reassignment to another school is being used as a weapon against teachers. “The government has asked to make a list of all these cases. There will be more talks with the government so that teachers can do their job without fear,” said Valies who added that teachers chose to assemble on October, the first day of school, to express their discontent with the government’s attitude towards teachers and not to dupe students. Teachers from the districts Saramacca and Nickerie reportedly attended Monday’s union meeting. “We know our responsibility but when the government does not keep its word, people can’t keep expecting us to remain ‘loyal’,” said Valies.