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Union seeks back pay for primary educators in Prey Veng province

Teachers say the government has not paid them for extra days worked during the 2007-08 term after they were promised a bonus by Hun Sen.

RONG Chhun, president of the Cambodian Independent Teachers Association (CITA), on Tuesday submitted a letter to the Ministry of Education on behalf of more than 5,000 primary school teachers in Prey Veng province who say they are owed back pay for extra days worked during the 2007-08 school year.

In an effort to improve education in the provinces, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced in 2007 that primary teachers who work on Thursdays - when primary school is normally not in session - should receive additional salary of 10,000 riels (US$2.41), Kong Dee, a primary school teacher in Prey Veng, said Tuesday.

"When we asked the [provincial] education department for our money, they said they could not pay it," Kong Dee said.

Rong Chun said he agreed to intercede in the long-running dispute.

"I had a meeting with primary teachers in Prey Veng at the end of last month, when they asked for my help in recovering their salary," he said.
"Working without being properly paid can affect teachers' motivation as well as their standard of living," he said.

Kim Sokum, vice director of the Education Department in Prey Veng, acknowledged that a letter had been sent to the Ministry of Education through his office.

"We are trying very hard to resolve this matter," Kim Sokum said, adding that the ministry said it was considering the matter but could not say when teachers could expect to receive their unpaid salary.

But Pau Som Ang, deputy director of the Department of Informal Education at the ministry, said Tuesday that the ministry had not yet received any letter from the teachers association.

Rong Chhun, an advocate of increased salaries for Cambodia's teachers, drew sharp attacks from the government in March following a survey issued by CITA that said inadequate salaries led to increased corruption and high dropout rates in the Kingdom's schools.

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