Mon, 24 Apr 2000

More teachers threaten to strike, demand salary hike

JAKARTA (JP): Some 1,000 teachers of kindergarten to high school across Jambi staged a noisy rally in front of the provincial legislative building on Saturday. They demanded a 300 percent raise in their salaries and 500 percent in extra allowances.

The teachers, grouped in the Indonesian Teachers Union (PGRI) and the Forum of Jambi's Teachers (FGKJ), forced their way into the main plenary hall, where their representatives were holding a dialogue with local councilors, Antara reported.

Speaker of the legislature Nasrun HR Arbain received the representatives led by PGRI executive Sudirman.

During the dialogue, the protesters also demanded that the government drop the monthly rice distribution and replace it with a rice stipend.

"We asked for a rice stipend with a new price basis of Rp 2,640 (some 33 US cents) per kilogram instead of the old rice price of Rp 2,380," Sudirman said.

The teachers also urged the government to provide them with housing credits and demanded the removal of the head of PGRI's provincial branch, Yusuf Madjid, whom they accused of failing to realize their needs.

Nasrun pledged to relay the demands to Jakarta and the local administration.

Secretary of FGKJ Suardiwan said that the central government should reconsider its decision to earmark a mere 5.8 percent of the state budget for teachers salaries and allowances.

"Other countries allot much more from their budgets for their teachers. Malaysia, for instance, used 17 percent of its budget, and Sweden 135 percent," he said.

Separately, thousands of teachers in Banyumas regency in Central Java threatened to strike on National Education Day which falls on May 2, along with their 9,000 colleagues in neighboring regency of Banjarnegara.

Banyumas regent Aris Setiono urged the teachers to reconsider their plans, saying that students will be undergoing their final examination in the middle of May.

"I want the teachers to think about their students' preparations for the final exams," he told journalists on Saturday while visiting Purwokerto.

However, a teacher of Banyumas confirmed with The Jakarta Post on Sunday that "partial strikes" have been stealthily underway.

"Most teachers in Banyumas have been holding strikes by arriving in classes without following the schedule," Munirwan, a member of the Banyumas Teachers Communication Forum, said. (01/45)