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Thursday, October 29, 1998 Published at 16:30 GMT


Siberian teachers begin hunger strike

Millions of roubles are owed to teachers in pay arrears

Teachers in Siberia protesting over unpaid wages have begun a hunger strike.

Since the beginning of term, schools across Russia have been disrupted by strikes and demonstrations by teachers seeking millions of roubles in pay arrears.

Now teachers at a secondary school in the Topchikha district, in the Altai territory in Siberia, have gone on hunger strike, demanding the repayment of wages.

In the same region, a union leader representing teachers in 18 schools says that staff will boycott the beginning of next term unless arrears are paid.

Already there are reported to be 3,500 teachers in 126 schools in the Altai region taking part in a strike that started last week.

Last month, teachers in the Altai region were reported to have been offered payment in bottles of vodka, as the authorities lacked sufficient money to pay salaries.

Pressure growing

In another region of Siberia earlier this week, teachers in 31 schools began strike action, claiming that they had not received full pay since February.

Pressures over teachers' pay are growing elsewhere in Russia, with a deputation from the Primorye region on the eastern coast calling on the federal government to provide funds to cover pay arrears.

Unless the teachers receive their unpaid salaries, they are threatening to begin an indefinite strike from November 11.

Another deadline was given to education authorities this week by teachers in the Kavalerovo district, also on Russia's eastern coast.

Returning to work after a fortnight's strike, the teachers have agreed to return to school on the agreement that their salary arrears will begin to be paid within two weeks.

Unless this money is delivered, the teachers threaten to strike once again.

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