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Teachers' Pay Protest Spreads In Northern Kyrgyzstan

TALAS, Kyrgyzstan -- Some 500 secondary-school teachers picketed the governor's office in Kyrgyzstan's northern Talas Oblast to demand a salary increase, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

It's the latest in a series of such protests across the country, since teachers in a number of southern districts went on strike at the beginning of the month.

In the Ton district of the northeastern Issyk-Kul Oblast dozens of teachers also gathered on December 14 to demand a pay increase, but one of them, Lilia Sopieva, told RFE/RL they were not on strike yet.

She said their protest was an expression of solidarity with striking and protesting teachers in other regions.

On December 13, about 500 secondary-school teachers in the northern Jeti-Oguz district picketed the local governor's office demanding a salary increase.

Education and Science Minister Kanat Sadykov met with the protesters and told them the government is considering raising the average salary of secondary-school teachers by 30 percent -- a proposed hike the teachers dismissed as insufficient.

Kyrgyz secondary-school teachers earn an average monthly salary of some $30-$40. The protesting teachers in Jeti-Oguz are demanding $300-$320 per month.

The teachers in Jeti-Oguz warned that unless their demands were met within seven days, all secondary-school teachers in the district would start a long-term strike next on December 20.

Some teachers in the southern districts of Bazar-Korgon, Suzak, and Ozgon, who were the first to go on strike, have not yet returned to work.

Read more in Kyrgyz here