September 09, 2023
Working Together to Uphold the Just Demands and Rights of Yemeni Teachers in Yemen
The Justice4Yemen Pact calls on the Ansar Allah Movement (Houthis) to immediately address the demands of Yemeni teachers, pay their salaries in the areas it controls, end the intimidation of teachers, and release those detained for striking. The Justice4Yemen pact calls for a quick solution to the problem of Yemeni employees' salaries, which is on the agenda of the peace talks between the parties to the conflict in Yemen, and not just limiting the talks to the problem in Ansar Allah-controlled areas.
Deteriorating humanitarian conditions and increasing hunger among Yemeni teachers, as well as the near-total disruption of their salaries for eight years, prompted the Yemeni Teachers' Club in Ansar Allah-controlled areas to announce an all-out strike and call on teachers to participate in it, in a statement issued July 20, 2023.
The Yemeni Teachers' Club, a union bloc under establishment, said in its statement, “The Sanaa [Houthis]government has unfortunately ignored the suffering of teachers while paying the Political Council, ministers, deputies, the Shura Council... etc. huge sums of money every month, and the club considers the strike a legitimate and legal right.” Regarding the salaries that have been interrupted for eight years, he called on the Ansar Allah authority to pay the salaries monthly from the beginning of July and to pay the delayed salaries according to a schedule.
Since October 2016, Yemeni teachers in Ansar Allah-controlled areas have suffered a hunger crisis and the disruption of their salaries after former President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi decided in September 2016 to move the central bank from Sanaa to Aden, prompting the group to stop monthly salary payments and instead spend half of their salaries on religious events.
The Ansar Allah group countered the teachers' demands with intimidation and arrest campaigns. For example, Professor Mohsen Al-Dar, Secretary General of the Teachers Club, was arrested on Saturday, August 5, 2023, and his fate is still unknown. Mahdi Al-Mashat, Chairman of the Houthis Supreme Political Council, in a televised speech, called those who demand salaries "idiots" because they are doing a service to the enemy "according to his description" when they demand his authority to pay salaries, and although he acknowledges his group's responsibility to pay salaries, he said that the enemy has all the financial means.
The group adopted an austerity policy in education, which it called a “emergency plan” to reduce education days to a maximum of one or two days per week and to enlist the help of volunteers. The Justice4Yemen Pact believes that this measure affects the educational process by increasing its fragility and the poor educational outcomes of students.
The Pact contacted the Teachers' Club, collecting testimonies from teachers in Sana'a. A leader of the Teachers' Club said, "The teachers' response to the strike call was a shock to the Ministry of Education, prompting it to adopt the annual trick it calls an incentive, and with the aim of breaking it, it paid it to the teachers within two days of the announcement of the strike", and he added, then the government of Sana’a resorted to threats and intimidation, so that a number of teachers were arrested and asked to pledge not to strike to release them. The matter also developed in such a way that the leadership of the Teachers' Club was summoned to for investigation by the Ministry of Education and the educational offices they work for. In addition, the Teachers' Club page was blocked for its followers on Facebook.
According to the testimony of one of the teachers, “The last half of the salary we received was before Eid al-Adha this year [June], which is only half of the salary of August 2018.” He added, “We cannot strike or interact with the media because the teachers are treated as sleeper cells and conspirators with (aggression [Saudi-led coalition]) and the leaders of the districts, supervisors and sheikhs are warned.” The community committees and security forces are vigilant, investigating and prosecuting any teacher who responds to these calls to strike. The educator says that “many teachers tried to flee to the areas of the legitimate government in the past years, but they did not receive their salaries, so they returned to Sana'a, so they were treated harshly by the authorities in Sana'a so they could be an example for others.”
In a joint press conference of the Minister of Education of the de facto government in Sana’a with the Director of the Teachers' Support Fund, the latter stated that the Ministry has disbursed a monthly allocation of four billion and 666 million and 950 thousand riyals, of which 30 thousand riyals are for teachers. These are 154,699 male and female teachers in the areas controlled by Ansar Allah.
According to one of the teachers, the number of months that teachers have received their salaries from Ansar Allah authority since September 2016 is fourteen and a half months. They are still entitled to 67.5 months of salaries until the end of August 2023.
One of the teachers loyal to the de facto authority stated that salaries must be paid from gas and oil revenues, as was the case before the aggression, warning that the concerns that these problems will not affect the battlefields as the blood of the martyrs and the patience of their families will sweep away all those targeting the battlefields.
A female teacher in Sanaa said, “The authority in Sanaa uses many means to shake our confidence, destroy our morale and drag us into political circles to silence us, but we will not be silent to the Bin Habtoor government’s demand for our salaries so as not to give the teachers’ enemies an opportunity to make false accusations.” She added that the ministry’s reliance on volunteers instead of teachers results in government officials adopting policies that make students uneducated because volunteers do not have the skills and abilities to teach.”
Despite the Teachers’ Club president's statement to Justice4Yemen” that the strike rate reached 90% in the city and 100% in rural areas, repeated testimony from a number of teachers and residents confirmed that the response to the strike was limited and did not extend beyond some of the larger schools in the capital, Sana’a. Justice 4Yemen believes that this is due to the influence of the security authorities with which the de facto authority deals with teachers and their civil demands.
About two months ago, the Teachers Club (6) issued press releases demanding a response to the teachers' demands and sent a letter to Parliament, which is under Ansar Allah, asking it to discuss their case. After an internal discussion, the Parliament issued a statement calling on the international community to "engage positively and respond to the demands and will of the Yemeni people to stop the looting of their oil and gas wealth and to use the revenues to pay the salaries of all state employees, including teachers, educators, and college professors."
The internationally recognized government commented on the Ansar Allah group’s handling of the teachers’ demands, saying that the group “is trying to mislead public opinion by demanding that the government pay salaries while it continues to drain the treasury Cash reserves and hundreds of billions in public revenues and revenues from importing oil derivatives” It added in a statement that the total revenues “The amount looted by the Houthi militia from taxes, customs duties, zakat [Islamic tax system], endowments, oil and gas in the period 2022-2023 is four trillion and 620 billion riyals. ”
The issue of public sector employees' salaries has been raised in peace talks between the parties to the conflict in Yemen, and the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, stated in a briefing to the Security Council in mid-August that his office continues to discuss with both parties to the conflict ways to best meet the needs of public sector employees. All Yemeni men and women, including regular salary payments to public sector employees throughout the country. He stressed in his briefing that the issue of salary payment, including the issue of revenue sources, is a key issue for which the two parties must find an amicable solution. Economic resources should not be viewed as a zero-sum game. Rather, both parties must cooperate, not compete, to expand economic opportunities for the benefit of all Yemenis.
Preventing the employees from receiving their wages and enabling them to live a decent life with their families is a violation of Yemeni laws and the international covenants to which Yemen is a signatory, as Article (7) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights establishes the worker’s right to fair working conditions and a decent wage that will provide them with a generous living.
Restricting trade union activity and preventing the exercise of the right to strike are serious violations of human rights, since the International Covenant on Economic and Social Rights affirms in its eighth article that the exercise of this right may not be subject to restrictions other than those provided for by law and which, in a democratic society, are necessary measures to safeguard national security, public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
The Justice4Yemen Pact renews its call on Ansar Allah Group (Houthis) to respond quickly to the demands of Yemeni teachers in the areas under its control, to pay their salaries regularly and to schedule the delayed salaries, to release detained teachers immediately, to stop the use of security and intimidation means against civilian labor, and to ensure that the funds it collects are used to pay teachers' salaries and improve the educational process in the areas under its control.
We also call on the parties to the conflict in Yemen to engage in a dialog in good faith, far from political calculations, to resolve the issue of salaries in all Yemeni regions and find a quick mechanism to disburse them regularly to all public sector workers, and to ensure the establishment of a transparent mechanism to collect economic resources from all Yemeni regions and channel them to the Central Bank and ensure their allocation. This will bring prosperity to all Yemenis.
September 9, 2023
1. Abductees’ Mothers Association (AMA)
2. Al-Amal Women’s and Sociocultural Foundation (AWS)
3. Center for Strategic Studies to Support Women and Children (CSWC)
4. Free Media Center for Investigative Journalism
5. Marib Dam Foundation for Social Development (MDF)
6. Musaala Organization
7. SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties
8. Studies and Economic Media Center (SEMC)
9. Watch for Human Rights
10. Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations (YCMHRV)