Minister calls on Teacher's Council to assist striking teachers
The Minister of Education Sports and Culture, Loau Keneti Sio, has called on the Teacher’s Council to assist four teachers who walked off their jobs amid claims of being unpaid for months.
Loau said the Teacher’s Council should assist the teachers they represent who teach at Pesega Fou Primary.
“I want to stress that this school is a private school and the Government has no control over their governance; we deal directly with public schools," he said.
Last week four teachers at Pesega Fou Primary School at Vaitele walked off the job, and called a strike at the start of classes on Tuesday morning over what they claimed were months in unpaid wages.
A 69-year-old first grade teacher and educator of two decades' experience, Tufanua Pula, of Lepea, said she has not been paid for 10 months.
In a jointly signed letter, the teachers at the private school allege several forms of employment mistreatment, including that their contribution to the National Provident Fund had not been paid.
Repeated efforts by this newspaper to get direct comments from the School Principal, Taumainamoe Aufui Brown, have been unsuccessful.
On Tuesday, she declined to comment when approached; follow up queries on Friday were also not answered.
Loau said the school has been asked several times to come under the umbrella of the government and they refused.
“Private schools are independent and M.E.S.C. has no control over their operation, despite the fact that we do give the school grant monies. The teachers have other means they can file official complaints for compensation issues,” said Loau.
Efforts to get direct comments from the Teacher’s Council Chairman, Matafeo Reupena were unsuccessful.
On Tuesday morning, Mrs. Pula led the team of teachers off the school campus to leave students in the classrooms without teachers.
“We have been told one story after another and yet to date we have not been paid. And today was the last draw, and we marched out of the school," Mrs. Pula said.
Several parents who were contacted by this newspaper expressed disappointment with the school's management and their children's inability to attend classes without teaching staff.