December 2, 2006

Hondurans work for free?

Teachers demanding pay in September, La Prensa, Honduras

Teachers have been on strike on and off since I moved to Honduras in 2001. Although the government requires 200 days of classes per year (remember that these are only half-day classes for most public school students), students only have received between 150-175 class days in the past 5 years due to strikes.

Right now some 1,000 teachers are complaining about not receiving their pay, some for a few months and some since the beginning of the year. El Jefe's brother went without his teacher pay for 6 months. Thankfully, he doesn't have a family to support.

Latest word from the Department of Education is that they will be "ready to pay" on Tuesday, depending upon receiving a government payment of L.7,000,000,000 ($370,000,000 U.S.)

Two thousand doctors are clamoring for their pay from the government. At the top of the list are 850 doctors hired by contract who haven't been paid for 5 months. Next in line are permanent doctors who haven't been paid since January. Then there are 22 retired doctors and 300 other doctors who are owed salaries, vacation pay, and compulsory year-end bonuses since 2002.

San Pedro Sula Municipality
Municipal employees lined up at the payment window early Friday morning after hearing that their salaries would be brought up to date. They were surprised to find out that they only received pay through the end of October and are very worried about receiving their compulsory year-end bonus in December. (I'm calling this a 'bonus' for lack of a better word. It is actually a part of their base salary that is held back and paid in December.)

The municipality admits they have a "small delay" in paying contract employees the last two weeks pay for October, and permanent employees for the month of November, but that everything will be paid by December.

Is it any wonder that nothing works in Honduras?
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