GUINEA-BISSAU: Teachers take to the streets over non-payment of salaries
School teachers often go many months without being paid in Guinea Bissau
Bissau, 15 August 2006 (IRIN) - Some 500 school teachers in Guinea-Bissau protested on the streets of the capital, Bissau, on Tuesday and said that year-end exam results would not be released until salaries overdue by up to 14 months had been paid in full.
“School students will not get to know their exam results until the government pays in the full the outstanding salaries to teachers,” said spokesman for the teachers, Isaias Jose Ramalho.
Without their exam results, students can't register for the next academic year which begins in early September.
Non-payment of civil servant wages is a recurring problem in Guinea-Bissau. In June, workers' unions threatened large-scale strikes if salary arrears were not cleared.
Tuesday’s demonstration was called as government ministers closed a meeting to discuss how to pay the overdue salaries of state workers. At the meeting, a special commission was set up to resolve the problem.
“Down with injustice!” and “We want respect for our rights!” shouted the unpaid teachers gathered outside the meeting.
The government of Guinea-Bissau has repeatedly promised the teachers a solution was imminent. In June, the government said special funds had been secured from the regional economic group ECOWAS but that deal immediately fizzled and salary arrears continued to mount.
The tiny West African nation of Guinea-Bissau is suffering from years of instability and economic mismanagement. The bedrock of the national economy is cashew nuts, which are sold off in unprocessed form and bring in minimal returns for the country.
In an interview with IRIN in May, Prime Minister Aristides Gomes said two months of salary arrears for all government workers would be paid at the end of that month, but the money failed to materialise.
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]