Surinamese teachers end industrial action

The Federation of Teachers’ Organisations in Suriname (FOLS)says it will suspend the industrial action taken by teachers on Wednesday.

FOLS president, Marcellino Nerkust, said the leadership met last weekend to evaluate the situation and afterwards made the decision to end the industrial action.

The teachers have been leaving school mid-morning daily since last week in support of the wider action taken by trade unions to get the government to reduce the rates for electricity.

FOLS said it has written to Education, Science and Culture Minister, Henry Ori informing him of the decision to end the industrial action.

“The member associations affiliated with the FOLS, namely the SOB, the COB, the KOB and the IOB…have decided, after an urgent internal consultation, to suspend the actions with effect from Wednesday, May 15, 2024,” the letter said.

But FOLS said that its decision to end the industrial action is based on the technical consultation that is currently taking place, between the energy experts as representatives of the trade union movement on the one hand and the government energy experts on the other. Over the past week, the parties have discussed various aspects of this current matter and FOLS said it is awaiting the end result.

Earlier this month, the government said it held “extensive” discussions with “cooperating trade unions” but no solution had been reached regarding the increase in electricity rates.

A statement issued by the Suriname Communications Service (CDS), quoted President Chandrikapersad Santokhi as indicating that his government has implemented a broad package of measures to improve the lives of the population.

“Our country is undergoing a reform programme by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which requires necessary but tough measures,” he said.

According to the government, diesel must be reduced by SRD$10 per litre, with electricity SRD$260 per connection and “gas bombs” of 28 pounds, more than SRD$400 each.

Several opposition parties including the main opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) have described the increased electricity rates as “illegal” claiming that the correct legal procedure was not followed.

FOLS said that its decision to end the industrial action is also based on the recent start of the wage negotiations “and we are working towards its completion by the end of June 2024”.

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