No work, no pay for striking teachers

No work, no pay for striking teachers

MASERU – No work, no pay.
That is the blunt message Education Minister Ntoi Rapapa is now pushing as he seeks to break a four-week teachers’ strike.
The teachers downed tools four weeks ago to push the government to address a raft of grievances that include better pay and improved working conditions.
Peeved by the seemingly unending strike, students at several high schools have now gone on the rampage, rioting and beating up teachers demanding an end to the strike action.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Rapapa said the government is concerned about the present situation in which the students have not been taught since the schools reopened.
Rapapa said in some schools property had been vandalized with people breaking the law.

“The government is aware that there are threats that are (being) made against the schools that have decided to teach students,” he said.
Rapapa said the government had accepted a plea from teachers’ associations that 135 teachers who were principals under the performance contract and who were also permanent and pensionable should be given an advance in gratuity.

“However the teachers who do not feel like accepting it are free to decline it,” he said.
Rapapa said M23 million will be put aside so that the teachers will get the advance and the advance will not have any interest charges.
He said the government is going to start reviewing the teachers’ salaries and career structure from Monday next week.

He said that will be done by the Ministry of Public Service and the associations of teachers will be expected to take part.
“For teachers who are not teaching students, the no work, no pay principle is going to be applied,” he said.
The Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), Lesotho Teachers’ Trade Union (LTTU) and the Lesotho Principals Association (LESPA) downed tools last month demanding an improvement in their salaries and working conditions.

Rapapa said they will soon go to different schools to make full-scale inspection and establish who was not at work for the past two months.
Rapapa said another decision is to continue to pay the teachers’ debts basing themselves on the money that has been allocated to the ministry.
He said the government had also decided to take tough measures against people who prevent students from being taught.
He also said he will take legal action against students who have vandalised school properties.

The teachers’ biggest gripe is that they were never consulted when Parliament passed the new Teachers Career and Salary Structure Regulations as is required by the law.
Under the new structure, teachers would no longer be paid based on their educational qualifications irrespective of the promises of the government in the past.
The government encouraged teachers to further their studies saying they would be paid accordingly but after they took study leave the government reneged.
The teachers also say the appointment of teachers should be reviewed because some teachers were not employed with the blessings of the school boards.
They are also not happy with the performance contracts introduced by the Ministry of Education.

They say principals who were engaged on this basis are in dire straits as they have never been paid since their employment.
Only 20 were paid while 160 have never been paid.

The LTTU secretary general ’Mapitso Mokauli said they are shocked by Rapapa’s announcement that he will apply the no-work-no-pay principle “because as far as we know teachers are working”.
“He should mention the schools where teachers are not working,” she said.
“I recall that when some students at Ribaneng rioted he said that was not related to the teachers’ strike. It is surprising now that he says students are rebelling because teachers are on strike,” she said.

“He should not be double-tongued because of his prominence as a minister.”
Mokauli also said Rapapa talked about lending some money to teachers who were employed under contracts when the contracts expired “instead of paying their gratuities right away”.
“If there is no money to pay their gratuities, where will he get money to give them loans?”

Mokauli said Rapapa is just trying to confuse the teachers instead of solving their problems.
“It seems the government is not determined to address our issues,” she said, adding: “As for us, we will continue going to the courts for a peaceful resolution of our problems.”

’Makhotso Rakotsoane

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