Yemeni teachers to escalate strike into civil disobedience

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Sadeq Al-Wesabi Published:18-04-2011

SANA’A, Apr. 17 — Yemeni teachers who have been on strike and have now had their salaries stopped, have responded by escalating their strike into civil disobedience until their demands are met.

The Yemeni Teacher’s Syndicate and the Yemeni Educational Professions Syndicate issued a statement last Saturday condemning the “authoritarian practices against teachers who are on strike demanding their rights.”

For more than five years, Yemeni teachers have been demanding allowances and increased salaries in accordance with promises from the government that have so far been unfulfilled.

The statement denounced the cutting of teachers’ salaries as arbitrary, and called for all Yemeni teachers to maintain and escalate their strike until attaining their demands.

Mohammed Al-Maqrami, secretary-general of the Educational Professions Syndicate, told the Yemen Times that most teachers have responded to the call to strike. He indicated that the strike has been almost total in the southern and eastern governorates, and in Sana’a almost 70 percent of teachers are now on strike.

“The stopping of teachers’ salaries is not constitutional or legal. This is a flagrant breach of the constitution,” he said.

The Ministry of Education has replaced protesting teachers with unskilled teachers, according to Al-Maqrami. “They have replaced our teachers with people from the security forces. Those people are totally unskilled in education or teaching,” he explained.

Al-Maqrami described the recent actions of the ministry as “rude” and said that the ministry is unable to deal with the teachers’ problems and demands. “We formed a legal committee to settle this violation against teachers, and have sued the Ministry of Education for illegally stopping teachers’ salaries,” he said.

Hasan Al-Khawlani, a former manager at the Ministry of Education, said that striking teachers have faced abuse on top of having their salaries cut. He added that the government has not responded to promised salary increases for the last six years.

Speaking to the Yemen Times, Al-Khawlani said: “Unfortunately, the Ministry of Education resorts to threatening teachers instead of giving them their rights.” Al-Khawlani slammed the Ministry’s initiative to replace striking teachers with unskilled workers.

“This is a thuggish action. It’s unreasonable to replace those teachers with anybody,” he said angrily. “The ministry has nothing except threats... We will escalate our strike and we will not stop until we have achieved our demands.”