Teachers lose case

Teachers lose case

MASERU-PRIMARY school teachers have lost a court case in which they were challenging the legality of the revised teachers’ salary structure.
Letsatsi Ntsibolane, who is the Secretary General of the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), told thepost this week that the High Court had dismissed their case.

In their urgent application before Justice Tšeliso Monaphathi in the High Court in mid-March, the teachers wanted the Ministry of Education and Training to revamp its salary structure.
The teachers argued that the 2019 Revised Teachers’ Salary Structure failed to consider their qualifications, effectively phasing them out of the structure.

They also complained that the new structure put them in a much lower grade which disadvantaged them as compared to their counterparts in secondary schools.
The teachers had asked the court to stay the new structure pending a process to involve them in the decision-making processes.
However, Justice Monaphathi found that the High Court lacked jurisdiction to hear the matter as it squarely fell in the dominion of the labour courts.
He dismissed the application with costs.

Ntsibolane said the teachers had a clear agreement with the government that it would review their salaries.
He said primary school teachers were not happy because their salaries were not the same as those in secondary schools even though some of them held similar academic qualifications.
“The case was thrown out of the window,” Ntsibolane said.
He accused the government of waging a divide-and-rule strategy to divide teachers.

Ntsibolane said now that the court case was over they hope to go back to their employer for further talks on the matter.
They also want to talk to members who had left their union to come back to the fold.

He said different opinions were a sign of a healthy democracy.
The teachers last week held a meeting with the newly appointed Education Minister Ntlhoi Motsamai asking her to address the challenges.
Motsamai is said to have requested more time to study the issues so that she could address them properly.

The majority of primary school teachers last year left the LTA and formed a rival union called the Lesotho Federation of Teachers (LEFT).
Former Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) spokesman, Gibson Matlenya, who is now part of LEFT, said it is the primary teachers who spearheaded the fight for better salaries and not the high school teachers.
“Regrettably, the high school teachers later joined the primary teachers (who were) already on the battlefield but they are the ones now benefitting,” he said.

He complained that when they demanded answers, they were told that high school teachers work more hours than them.
Matlenya said this was unfair because they work from 8am and do not have any opportunity to rest between periods.
He said the new structure discriminates against primary school teachers holding diplomas against their fellow teachers holding diplomas in secondary schools.

He said they are yet to hold a meeting as primary school teachers to discuss when they are going to drag the matter to the courts.
According to the new structure, an entry level teacher at primary school is earning M105 981 annually while the highest paid gets M124 357.
An entry level teacher at secondary school earns M123 021 per annum while the most experienced earns M142 513.

A senior primary teacher’s entry salary stands at M138 615 while a new senior secondary teacher is paid M154 828.

Nkheli Liphoto

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