FTA encourages members to rally for proposed May 3 protest

Members of the Fijian Teachers Association at their annual conference. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

THE Fijian Teachers Association is encouraging its members to rally behind the association ahead of the scheduled May 3 protest.

FTA general secretary Paula Manumanunitoga said this follows their members’ endorsement during the association’s four-day conference in Suva this week.

He said for years, they had tried to conduct a secret ballot to stage a strike, however, all were deemed illegal by Government.

He said the planned protest was the only option they had.

“It’s a long story because when we apply for a permit to protest or go on strike, it has its legal thing,” he said.

Mr Manumanunitoga claimed that their plans to protest had always been unsuccessful.

He said if the permit of the scheduled march would not be approved, FTA members would still go on strike.

The planned protest scheduled on May 3 is also a student free day for teachers in all schools.

“We would like to just stand up against the Government so having it during the ADB meeting is very timely.

“We need to be together, we need to be united, they need to support us because in our discussions we said that if we don’t do this now, our children will blame us for not taking any action when we were supposed to have done it.

“I’m requesting all our members — we have been sending out emails to them regarding the circular sent out by the PS.

“I’ve been around the country and the members fully support this and they will participate. What we intend to do is inspire all the members to take part because if we are all united, none of these people (FTA members) will be victimised,” he added.

Mr Manumanunitoga said the circular sent out by Education Ministry permanent secretary Alison Burchell was a threat to teachers.

In the circular, Ms Burchell said any ministry employee who participated in the protest, having taken leave or being on their school break, would have their participation deemed unlawful and may be subjected to possible disciplinary action or other legal action.

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