Teachers in Guinea-Bissau ended their third strike since September over pay and conditions on Monday but warned they could stage another walkout in 2018 if unresolved issues are not addressed. Two teachers’ unions said they had reached an agreement on salaries unpaid between 2011-2013, but additional bonuses linked to seniority were still under discussion and if not resolved within six weeks will mean new strikes.
Parents are increasingly forced to pay teachers’ salaries themselves in the tiny former Portuguese colony to ensure children receive an education, while government education spending amounts to just $40 ($33.5) per child per year, according to UN figures.
“The strike is lifted, and all our members should be heading back to work on Monday,” Laurindo Pereira, president of the teachers’ union Sindeprof, told journalists. More than 700 teachers employed as contractors were now full-time civil servants, he added, a key demand of the strikers.
Primary and secondary school children were heading back to school on Monday after a two-week absence, a correspondent saw. During the strikes, parents contributed 500-1,000 francs CFA (0.75 centimes-1.5 euros) to pay teachers’ salaries in some schools, despite household incomes that are among the world’s lowest on average.