President of the Teachers Association of Maldives (TAM) Athif Abdul Hakeem has accused the government of intimidation after being summoned to the Ministry of Education following public criticism of new pay scales.
Athif told Minivan News that Permanent Secretary Dr Abdul Muhsin told him to “pay attention to public interests” while speaking publicly about the new teachers’ structure.
“I see this as an act of intimidation,” said Athif, who was told by the Mushin that the warning should not be interpreted as a threat.
In response, Muhsin said that although details of such talks are normally kept private, he denied having given a warning, noting that special regulations are in place within the civil service to formally warn employees.
“I did not give any warning to Athif,” stated Muhsin, who said that he could not comment on the new pay structure.
Athif has told local media that the pay rises promised by President Abdulla Yameen will not be realised, accusing the government of “lying to the community”.
Yameen had announced that all teachers will get a salary increment not less than one third of previous earnings.
Around 90 percent of the country’s teachers protested in September last year against poor pay and inadequate protection of teachers, prompting the government to enter negotiations as a full strike loomed.
Athif explained that the education ministry called him yesterday (January 28) to request he come to meet permanent secretary, in his capacity as TAM president.
“I told them that if I am to go as the TAM president, I can only go with my secretary,” said Athif, after which he was asked to attend in his role as the Majeediyya School’s Dhivehi teacher.
He went on to say that, during the brief meeting, Muhsin first asked whether the new teachers’ structure was displayed on the notice board of Majeediyya School.
“I told him yes. I also told him that he could have phoned the school and inquired about it rather than bringing me to the ministry,” Athif continued.
He argued that, according to the new teachers’ structure, certificate-level teachers will be paid less than the amount they were previously paid, affecting their overtime and Ramazan allowances.
TAM had tentatively welcomed the rises in salaries earlier this month, which pledged increases of between 35 and 15 percent depending on the qualifications held.
“We welcome the increases in salaries. We have some concerns, we will release a full statement after analysing the changes brought, if they satisfactorily meet our demands”, said TAM Secretary General Ali Nazim at the time.
Athif today suggested that the government wished to eliminate the layer of teachers at the certificate level from the new structure by the start of the next year but that “until the end of this year, they should not be paid lesser than what they are paid now”.
In November, the Maldivian Democratic Party’s budget review committee suggested that the government had not budgeted the required MVR532 million (US$34.5 million) needed to raise the salaries of teachers despite promises made by both President Yameen and Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel.
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