By Alfred Koroma
The Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) has issued a 21 days strike notice to the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), informing the ministry of the Union’s resolve to mount industrial strike action over failure to honour proposal on teachers’ salaries and allowances.
Teachers are demanding that government increase their monthly wages and improve their conditions of service.
The 21-day strike notice, which counting started last week Friday, appears to be urging the ministry to look into the concerns of the teachers not later than the above mentioned days. Failure to do so, SLTU says it will resort to industrial strike action.
The strike notice by SLTU did not come as surprise. The issue of teachers staging an industrial strike action has been grooming since the resumption of the third session of the 2021/2022 Academic year. There was even the fear that the reopening of schools for Third Term was going to be disrupted.
Before schools re-opened, a group called Teachers Solidarity Movement published a press statement calling on teachers not to resume work in protest of low salary scale and poor conditions of service.
Suppressed by a stiff resistance by the government who arrested the ring leader of the said movement, the strike action did not take place.
A Deputy Head Teacher who spoke to this medium at the time said they did not strike, but they were not happy with the current salary they were receiving, lamenting on their underpayment.
“I am a Deputy Head Teacher and I am still underpaid. We are not happy. Government needs to do more,” she said.
A representative of the teachers Movement who spoke to SLBC Radio morning Coffee program described teachers’ salary as a non-living wage, comparing their salaries to other staff in MDAs whom, he claimed, were receiving far better than them.
Over two years ago, Government of Sierra Leone made 30 percent increment on teachers’ salaries, and 40 percent of the government monthly wage bill goes to the payment of teachers.
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 services and commodities, prompting increasing calls for government to increase monthly wages of workers.
If SLTU ends up staging the strike action, it will be the first teacher strike action since the introduction of the Free Quality Education project by and that may occur amidst the WASSCE.