Kyrgyz Teachers demonstrating last Month
Teachers in Kyrgyzstan are threatening to resume strike action if their demands for a living wage are not met
Teachers in the
Central Asian country earn between $30 and $60 a month on average which is well below the average income of $183 and not enough to live on. As a result parents often have to suplement teachers' wages just so that they can subsist. Leaders of the Union of Education Professional said teachers would strike again ii their demand for a 100% pay increase together with housing subsidies and other concessions was not met.
Teachers were on strike last month but suspended their strike to allow the government to come up with more money. As this has not happened the teachers will be on strike again and this time they may be joined by health workers. The unrest may well spread to other parts of the country as people continue to face grinding poverty. As I reported in my last post on Kyrgyzstan:
Kyrgyzstan is an exporter of gold and oil as well as agricultural products such as tobacco. Yet over half the population lives below the poverty line. Kyrgyzstan is yet another country which has been under the yoke of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank – being designated as one of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries. As readers of posts on this website will know the IMF prescriptions always involve cutting public spending and selling off national assets to foreign corporations. The IMF has also insisted on much more restrictive labour laws.
Teachers are not only having to cope with grinding poverty. The southern part of Kyrgyzstan also suffered from horrific ethnic violence earlier this year – which some suspected had been encouraged by the government. Meanwhile teachers – who are key to the future of the country – are having to work on wages which do not allow them to live – let alone work.