Teachers in Panama took part in a strike on Friday against the imposition of performance related pay by the government. The teachers are demanding a pay increase and say they are not opposed to evaluation but that they do not want it to be linked to their salaries.

At issue is a $300 pay rise for April which teachers say should be for all teachers and not a bonus based on evaluation. Last month teachers demonstrated en masse for increased salaries but the education minister took no notice of their demands, refusing to meet them on the grounds that she had 'so many activities in recent weeks' - an excuse teachers unions described as contemptuous. The minister went on to attack the strike, saying that as it had not been sanctioned by the executive, it was not legitimate and threatening consequences to those who take action. Nevertheless 15 teachers unions in the country took action on Friday.

Union leaders met yesterday to decide if the strike should continue and become open-ended.

Last year teachers in Panama won a significant victory over plans to enable the privatisation of schools, however issues about funding for schools remain unresolved - with teachers demanding payment to repair crumbling school building. Panama is the second most unequal country in Latin America, despite having significant natural resources including the canal and oil. It has close relations with the US, which relies heavily on the canal.