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Sierra Leone
Friday, May 20, 2022

Teachers planning strike action

By Alfred Koroma

The reopening of schools for the third session of the 2021/2022 Academic may be disrupted as teachers are planning to stage a nation-wide strike action, demanding increment of their monthly  wages and improved conditions of service.

Over two years ago, Government of Sierra Leone made 30 percent increment on teachers’ salaries. But it seems the increment does not at the moment, rhyme with the present cost of living.

The country has been hit by rising prices of basic service and commodities, prompting increasing calls from CSOs on government to increase monthly wages of workers. In a its press release published last month, Sierra Leone Labour Congress (SLLC) said cost of living in the country has seriously eroded the earning power of citizens and negatively impacted the living standard of the general populace.

A representative of the teachers who spoke to SLBC radio morning Coffee program said the current salary paid to teachers is not a living wage, comparing their salaries to other staff in MDAs whom he claimed are receiving far better than them. He called on the Government to look into their concern.  Although Government is making effort promote free quality education, the quality lies with teachers. Therefore, we are asking for a living wage, he added.

According the teachers representative, a 21 days strike notice will be issued to government and if response no is made, they will strike. Should it take place, it will be the first teacher strike action against government since the introduction of the Free Quality Education (FQE) project, and that is set to occur amidst preparation for public exams starting next month.

Education is the number one priority of the New Direction administration, and the government has continuously directed bulk of the country’s national budget to the sector. Although they are among the least paid public sector workers, they carry the largest percentage of Government wage bill, consuming 40 percent of the monthly wage bill.

 President Julius Maada launched the FQE project for all government and government assisted primary and secondary schools in the country, and directed bulk of the country’s resources to the project. Currently the education sector takes 22 percent of the national budget.

A press statement trending on social media claimed to have come from a group called Teachers Solidarity Movement appears to be putting blame on the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) and  describes the Union as ‘toothless bulldog’ for failing to advocate for their welfare.

 “Enough is enough!” That’s more the reasons we have come together without any intermediary,” the statement reads, calling on Government and the International Community representatives in the country to come to their rescue.

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