The protest of hundreds of teachers that began last week was extended “nationwide” and continues today according to the president of the Coprumh union, Eduardo Casaña.
Thousands of teachers from all over the country gathered at Francisco Morazan University in Tegucigalpa to demand that President Porfirio Lobo’s government pay off the debt from the previous administration of Mel Zelaya. Casaña said that the protest will continue until Lobo sits down to negotiate with them.
The striking teachers say the government owes some 3 billion lempiras ($159 million) to their pension and benefits fund.
President Lobo and the Education Minister, Alejandro Ventura repeatedly have promised that the government’s debt to them will be paid over time, but that the educators must not leave their classrooms. Lobo has impressed upon them to make sure the children and young people continue to get their education.
A commitment to pay 1,779 million lempiras to Inprema was signed last night between the Finance Minister, William Chong Wong, and the Education Secretary, Alejandro Ventura, in the presence of the owner of Inprema, Luis Lara. The commitment outlines that the monies will be paid by December 31, 2010.
Teachers were notified that employer contributions during 2010 were going to paid with bonds within five years. The teachers rejected that agreement, because it is to be distributed in bonds. The teachers say they have already been awarded bonds, but they have not been paid.
“The negotiations were conducted with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance, but not with the teachers, so the agreement is between the government,” according to Eduardo Casaña, and therefore unacceptable.