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Schools reopen as teachers end strike

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KINSHASA, 19 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - Public schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have reopened after a delay caused by 230,000 teachers who went on strike from 5 September to demand better pay.

The teachers resumed work on Monday after they received salary increases of between US $14 and $45.

"We have stopped the strike because the President [Joseph Kabila] allowed us to take part in negotiations on the new [national] budget at the parliament level," Laurent Mozamboka Sekeseke, the deputy secretary of Congolese Teachers Trade Union, known as SYECO, said.

The government has drawn up a national budget, to be tabled in parliament.

SYECO was one of the trade unions that had called the teachers' strike. "If the President does not pay us by 31 December, as he said, we will go back on strike," Mozamboka said.

The teachers had been on strike to demand salaries of at least $208 for the lower grade teachers and $2,000 for the upper grade ones. Their demand was in accordance with an agreement signed in December 2004 between the government and all civil servants.

"The government has not totally fulfilled our yearnings," Mozamboka said.

He said the increase was inadequate and discriminatory, as a teacher in the capital, Kinshasa, did not receive the same amount as one in Lubumbashi, capital of the southeastern province of Katanga.

In announcing the increase in teachers' salaries last week, the government said with was increasing the pay for lower grade teachers in Kinshasa by $45; $21 for those in Lubumbashi and 6,164 ($14) for those in other provinces across the country.


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