Teachers furious

Teachers furious

MASERU – AS the strike by teachers unfolds, a spokesman for the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT) says unions have “totally lost trust” in the Cabinet subcommittee that is meant to resolve teachers’ grievances.

The spokesman, Letsatsi Ntsibolane, said the strike started “on a good note” on Monday.

“The education is going to be negatively affected. And the most important thing is that we do not even know when the strike will end,” Ntsibolane told thepost.

Ntsibolane said the subcommittee was not treating issues raised by the unions seriously.
He said they have pleaded with the government to withdraw all threats and dismissals against teachers and to allow people to return to work.
He said teachers also wanted to be compensated for the Ministry of Education and Training’s “purposely” delay in implementing the career and salary structure.

Teachers want an eight percent salary adjustment as compensation while awaiting structure’s implementation in 2020/2021 financial years, said Ntsibolane.

“We told them to review those issues so that by Thursday when we meet again everything is clear,” he said.
Ntsibolane is fighting his dismissal in court. The case has been postponed to March 21.
He is accused of absconding from classes and letting other teachers do his work.
Principal Secretary for higher education Dr Thabang Lebese said they are still negotiating with the teachers through the subcommittee.
“The first meeting was yesterday and we agreed that we should not talk about the contents of the issue even though they are talking somehow about it now,” he said.

Dr Lebese said government is still preparing for negotiations, adding that members of unions other than LAT are expected to be at work. He promised security for teachers who choose to report for work.

“We are ready to offer security and we have already asked for help from security institutions,” he said.
He said there were reported conflicts at one school but their team was able to rush there and bring the situation under control.
However, Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) Secretary General ’Mapitso Molai said according to the law, all unions could join the strike.
“We have been walking together since we started so we will partake (in the strike),” she said.
“People who think we are not entitled to strike are confused or they are just not aware of the laws,” she said.

Chairman of the Cabinet subcommittee Chief Thesele ‘Maseribane said they invited teachers’ unions to a meeting last week Friday but the unions demanded that the ministry drops its court case against teachers for the meeting to go ahead.
“The government’s lawyer together with the teachers’ lawyer agreed that we should postpone the meeting to give negotiations a chance to take place,” he said.

Chief ‘Maseribane said only two unions came to the meeting and three unions did not. “There was no apology so we started our meeting,” he said.
He said the meeting concluded that principals and teachers should be paid.
Chief ‘Maseribane said they confirmed with the teachers’ unions at the meeting that the government has already spent M22 million to pay teachers and principals.

He said 1, 980 files were received and 1, 295 teachers have already been paid.
He said about 685 teachers were yet to be paid.
“They have not submitted files at the same time and we also found out that the 685 number is not constant, maybe 731 should be considered,” Chief ‘Maseribane said.

He said those who have not yet submitted their files should do so.
He said the other agreement was that the real figures of unpaid teachers should be reviewed by the ministries of Public Service and Finance.
“We have agreed that on the 7th March the first draft of the career structure should have been issued to teachers’ unions,” he said.

Nkheli Liphoto

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