Teachers to down tools

Teachers to down tools

MASERU – TEACHERS are set to embark on a strike starting today after representative unions agreed on collective action to force the government to budge on a litany of demands.
Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) secretary general ’Mapitso Molai said the strike is a result of an agreement by various teacher representative associations.
“We cannot exactly tell how our strike is going to unfold but we are surely going for it,” she said.
Speaking at a press conference addressed by representatives of teachers’ associations on Tuesday at Lesotho High School, Molai said they had given enough room for negotiations but the Ministry of Education seems unwilling to respond to grievances tabled by the teachers.

She said an honest update on progress in resolving the sticking issues shows that not much has been achieved.
Molai said they want to clarify their stance on the press statements made by Ministry of Education last Wednesday, which attempted to answer their letter of grievances.
“But they did not state all the facts,” she said.

She said on the issue of career and salary structure, the ministry was not honest when it said funds were lacking.
“Their intention is to see the suggested salary structure not being used in next year’s budget,” she said.
“This is not part of our agreement,” she added.

Molai said on the issue of performance contract gratuities, the ministry offered M23.4 million in September 2018 to pay principals.
“The agreement is that the money should be paid before the end of November 2018,” she said, adding that it seems the government is not willing to honour that part of their agreement.
Molai said the ministry said it had M12 million to pay substitute teachers, hardship allowance, underpayments and part of promotions during their meeting in September but up until now there is no satisfactory progress.

She said in their meeting with the ministry on November 7, the ministry said it had paid only M1.8 million over the available amount of M12 million.
“Given this rate that the ministry is operating, it is clear that they do not want to abide by our signed agreement,” she said.
She said promotions and first appointments need M43 million and “the ministry said they have asked for such funds from the Ministry of Finance” and we don’t know if they will ever get the funds.

Molai said on the issue of schedule 17, the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) does not agree with the agreement reached between teachers’ associations and the Ministry of Education.
She said this is a new strategy by the ministry to waste teachers’ time.
“On reverting principals, the Teaching Service Commission does not handle our grievances well. Other principals did not get their salaries for October,” Molai said.
She also said regarding the amendment of Education Act 2010, there is progress but urged Parliament to speed it up so that by December, principals will be employed permanently and be pensionable.

She said on the issue of utility grant, they do not understand the reasons for delaying to give schools funds.
Molai said the ministry has agreed to deliver sealed pay slips to the teachers and they are now doing so, which is commendable.
She said it is important for the ministry to keep this up.

Regarding the issue of new curriculum, Molai said there has been significant progress.
Molai said there is progress regarding teachers without qualifications as they are now being registered.

The principal secretary in the Ministry of Education Dr Thabiso Lebese said he is not aware of the impeding strike because the ministry is busy working on the teachers’ grievances.
“They have not even written a letter to us as their employer,” he said.
Dr Lebese said the ministry was about to write to teachers’ associations to schedule a meeting and was surprised that the teachers are going on strike.

Nkheli Liphoto

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