Deal averts teachers’ strike

Deal averts teachers’ strike

MASERU – THE government has set aside M23 million for payment of school principals’ gratuities with a further M4 million being reserved to pay salary arrears for substitute teachers, thepost heard this week. The deal was sealed last Thursday as the government moved to end a crippling strike by teachers across the country.
Letsatsi Ntsibolane, who is the spokesman for the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), said the union had met representatives of the government as they sought to break the two-month old impasse.

Ntsibolane said the government had agreed to release M4 million to settle salary arrears for both substitute teachers and pay the hardship allowances.
“It was reported that savings in the ministry amounting to M12 million will be used to pay underpayments as well as acting allowances,” he said.
“The remaining M42 million will be paid to promotions, first appointments and other arrears as per the agreement.”
Ntsibolane said the teachers and principals will also soon be informed of the new career and salary structure.

He said the government had committed itself to implementing the new structure during the next financial year.
Ntsibolane said the government had also begun a process to amend the Pensions Act for teachers. Under the new Act all public servants will get 50 percent of their terminal benefits immediately after they retire.

Ntsibolane said a total of 181 Grade Eight teachers and 174 principals will also be trained on the new integrated curriculum during the independence holidays. Grade 1 to Grade 4 books will also be sent to the Districts’ Education offices for collection.
He said a panel is working to ensure that all school principals will be engaged on permanent and pensionable terms with effect from January 1, 2019.

The agreement comes after weeks of tension between teachers’ unions and the government. At the centre of the dispute was a demand by teachers for better pay and improved working conditions.
Last week’s agreement could finally end a bruising battle between the teachers and the government.

The teachers have however warned that they will go back to the streets if the government fails to honour the deal.
Ntsibolane said only a strict adherence to the terms of the agreement will avert another strike.

He said teachers are clear that the strike was not suspended but had been cancelled pending the outcome of the deal between the unions and the government.
Meanwhile, the Progressive Association of Lesotho Teachers (PALT) has accused the Ministry of Education of sidelining it during the negotiations.
PALT secretary general, Paul Sematlane, said the government appears keen to work with smaller unions that do not have stronger bargaining powers.
Sematlane said Professor Ntoi Rapapa’s deal with the unions was in bad taste because they don’t represent the majority of the teachers.

Nkheli Liphoto

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