By Mustapha K. Darboe
BANJUL, Gambia (AA) - Gambian authorities on Wednesday threatened to take disciplinary action against thousands of teachers who have gone on a sit-down strike.
"The [Education] Ministry is giving them no more than 24 hours to report back to their normal teaching duties, and failure to do so [will result in] disciplinary action [being] taken against them," the ministry said in a statement.
Teachers in Gambia embarked on a nationwide strike Monday for the first time in over three decades for what they say is the government’s failure to honor their demands, including a 100% pay hike.
The teachers responded to the ministry's statement, denouncing them for not encouraging dialogue instead of using threats.
The basic salary of a qualified teacher in Gambia at the primary school level is 2,350 Gambian Dalasi ($50) per month.
The spokesperson for the teachers, Modou Jallow, said this amount is too small.
“We are sitting until the government responds to our demands,” Jallow told Anadolu Agency.
Jallow said around 10,000 of the country’s 17,000 teachers support them.
The strike is not approved by the teacher’s union, whose deputy general secretary, Essa Sowe, told Anadolu Agency that their demand of a 100% pay rise within 22 days is unreasonable.
Sowe said they have agreed that the teachers should get a pay rise, but the timeframe they have given the government is very short.