2019/2020 National Budget: Unions say State must pay teachers accordingly

Fijian Teachers Association General Secretary Paula Manumanunitoga. Picture: FT FILE/ATU RASEA

GOVERNMENT must ensure that teachers are remunerated accordingly and this must be set out in the 2019/2020 National Budget which will be announced tomorrow night.

This is the view of the Fijian Teachers Association and the Fiji Teachers Union ahead of tomorrow night’s budget announcement.

FTA general secretary Paula Manumanunitoga said the association would want the Ministry of Economy to increase the Ministry of Education’s budget in order to cater for the minimum salaries for teachers and also the other allowances that were supposed to be rendered to teachers.

Mr Manumanunitoga claimed members of the security forces were paid more than teachers and this must not be the case.

He said the starting rate for teachers was $12,000.

He said teachers spent about three years in university and they were required to sit for exams and also do practical work, whereas for members of the security forces, these sorts of exercises were not necessary.

“We would ask the Ministry of Economy to increase the Ministry of Education’s budget so that teachers’ salaries could be brought up to par with the security forces, especially their starting salary,” Mr Manumanunitoga said.

Last year, the Education Ministry was allocated $1 billion, while the Fiji Police Force received an allocation of $193.5 million and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) was allocated a sum of $103.3 million.

FTU general secretary Agni Deo Singh says there are numerous areas that Government must look into if it is serious about resurrecting the quality of education in Fiji.

Mr Singh said the shortage of teachers was an issue.

He claimed the contractual appointment was an issue as there was now no job security for teachers and that teachers were also frustrated because their pay increment, which was due last year, was yet to be paid.

“A promise that was made last year has not been honoured and the next increment is now due in August,” he said.

“This budget must now cater for two increments as per the new salary structure after the job evaluation exercise.”

Both teachers’ unions said the budget must ensure balance for both parties.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Rosy Akbar had openly apologised to teachers for the late payment of their pay increment during her address to participants of the Fijian Teachers Association (FTA) 85th Annual Delegates Conference in April.

Ms Akbar had said the ministry was taking its time because it was yet to complete its assessment and payments would be made once the ministry completed its assessment.

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