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AN Education Ministry circular stating that permanent staff must accept new contracts before being allocated pay rises announced in the national budget has caused outcry among teachers’ unions.

The circular stated all staff will be given contracts to sign this month.

It highlighted that staff of “permanent status” will be given two options:

* will be offered a five-year contact from this month with the inclusion of the new salary increment; and,

* those who do not accept the contract and choose to remain as permanent staff will not receive any pay adjustment.

Also all teachers who are within the permanent status and yet to be contracted will also be given the same options.

Fijian Teachers Association (FTA) acting general secretary Peni Delaibatiki said this move by the ministry created fear and the feeling of insecurity among teachers.

“This move by Government was done without any consultation with the unions. This sudden change will really affect teachers’ morale in school and if their morale is low, their delivery in school will not be effective.”

Mr Delaibatiki said Fijian Teachers Association and Fijian Teachers Union have echoed similar serious sentiments regarding the circular.

Meanwhile the Confederation of Public Sector Unions has also expressed concerns with what they say are the conditional pay rises being afforded to civil servants.

CPSU General Secretary Rajeshwar Singh said while civil servants could expect pay raises of 14.3per cent on average, the terms of individual contracts were not mentioned at all.

“The circulars for ministries state that civil servants who are on tenure or “permanent status” will be placed on contracts and those who do not want the contracts will not receive a contract and those not taking offers of new contract will cease to be employed by 2019,” Mr Singh said.

He explained the CPSU treated the whole exercise as putting civil servants on forced contract and Government effectively withdrawing from the Collective Bargaining in breach of Section 189 of the ERP (Amendment) Act No. 1 of 2016 and also the 2013 Fiji Constitution.

“About 40 per cent of civil servants are on tenure or “Permanent Status” and the Confederation will challenge the compulsory offer of contracts through it’s available means.”

Questions sent to the Minister for Civil Service and Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum remained unaswered when this edition went to press last night.

Minister for Education Dr Mahendra Reddy when approached for a comment yesetrday said: “I will respond if I feel it is appropriate to respond.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum announced last Thursday in the 2017-2018 National Budget that the average increase for qualified teachers is 14.3 per cent while school heads and administrators is 13.8 per cent.

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