President calls on teachers to return to classrooms

President Luis Guillermo Solís Sunday joined the chorus of officials asking teachers to return to work.

His plea followed a similar request from Sonia Marta Mora, minister of Educación Pública, who spoke at a Friday press conference.

The pleas seem not to have been heeded by teacher unions.

The central government has deposited 750 million colons (about $1.375 million) to cover deficiencies in pay to some 6.600 teachers for February and March as well as the first 15-day pay period of May, said the president.

But he said that the teacher union was demanding payment in advance for yet another pay period, which he called an impossible action.

Solís said to make the advance payment would jeopardize the government’s capacity to meet the payroll for the entire public sector. He said the difference to teachers was just three days in the date of payment.

The president said it was not acceptable for the teachers to persist in maintaining the suspension of lessons and meals to 657,000 students.

He renewed the government’s offer to take no action against the striking teachers and promised not to dock their pay. He noted that his government inherited the problem May 8.

The country demands that classes begin again, he said.

Teachers have been on strike over the lack of pay for two weeks. The government blames the problem on the process of switching over from one payroll system to another.

The problems caused irregularities in pay since January. The education minister ordered new oversight at the ministry’s human resources department to find out the details of the problem.

The Asociación Nacional de Educadores, one of the principal unions, is calling on its Web site for another gathering of teachers at points all over the country for a demonstration today.

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