As many as 37 000 teachers, who are members of EI affiliate, the "Papua New Guinea Teachers' Association" (PNGTA), remain on strike in the country's national capital district despite the threat of severe penalties if they don't return to work. They began their action on 10 July over the non-payment of outstanding entitlements, including a four percent pay increase.
Teachers say that they have not seen any salary adjustments since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, between the PNGTA and the Teaching Service Commission in May 2006.
Teachers from the New Guinea Islands region, including Bougainville and East Sepik province, have indicated their support to join the strike action. PNGTA President, Tommy Hecko, said it is likely that teachers throughout the country would go on a nationwide strike soon.
PNGTA's Regional Secretary, Peter Wama, said teachers in his province would not attend classes until such time the national government gives a favourable response to their outstanding grievances. He described government's delay in addressing teachers grievances as only "a lip service", which has now put the education of Papua New Guinea's children in jeopardy. He also urged parents and guardians to understand and support the teachers' cause because they have been working under poor conditions and under paid for a long time.
EI is monitoring the situation closely and urges the Papua New Guinea government to adhere to their promises, so as to end the strike.