NUL union sees red over siverts ‘ben­e­fits’

Lesotho Times - - News - Billy Ntaote

THE Na­tional Univer­sity of Le­sotho’s (NUL) Non Aca­demic Work­ers Union (NAWU) has laid into Education and Train­ing Min­is­ter Dr Ma­hali Phamotse for re­quest­ing the univer­sity to pay for­mer Vice-chan­cel­lor Pro­fes­sor Sharon Siverts “due ben­e­fits”.

Prof Siverts re­signed on 24 Au­gust 2013 af­ter serv­ing only two years of her five-year ten­ure. Prior to the res­ig­na­tion, Prof Siverts had re­lo­cated from her of­fi­cial res­i­dence at the NUL cam­pus for a house in Maseru af­ter she al­legedly re­ceived death threats through phone calls and text mes­sages.

The univer­sity paid for Prof Siverts’ M22 573.69 monthly rental and se­cu­rity ex­penses dur­ing her stay at the Maseru home.

How­ever, when Prof Siverts’ re­signed, the univer­sity de­ducted the rental and se­cu­rity ex­penses from her ter­mi­nal ben­e­fits.

In her ad­dress while open­ing the NUL Coun­cil An­nual Gen­eral Meet­ing on Tues­day last week, Dr Phamotse re­quested Prof Siverts’ “due ben­e­fits” to be re­im­bursed.

“. . . it would be un­wise of me if I do not ap­peal to coun­cil to clean our dirty linen by fa­cil­i­tat­ing and in­struct­ing the pay­ment of due ben­e­fits to Prof Siverts, our for­mer vicechan­cel­lor so that we be­gin pur­su­ing the as­pi­ra­tions of govern­ment spot­less,” she said.

How­ever, dur­ing a press con­fer­ence con­vened on Tues­day this week, NAWU chair­per­son ‘Mate­bello Mokupo said the union had learnt of the min­is­ter’s re­marks with “great shock and dis­may”.

“As a trade union, we un­der­stand the min­is­ter’s state­ment as sug­gest­ing that Prof Siverts should be paid the re­main­ing three years of her con­tract that she did not serve as ex­pected. In other words she only served two of her five con­trac­tual years,” said Ms Mokupo.

“The min­is­ter’s state­ment could also be un­der­stood as sug­gest­ing that Prof Siverts should be paid some money that was at some point de­ducted from her ter­mi­nal ben­e­fits.”

Ms Mokupo said ren­o­va­tions and fur­nish­ing for the for­mer vice-chan­cel­lor’s Roma cam­pus res­i­dence cost M284 197.62, “where she was also pro­vided 24-hour se­cu­rity ser­vice”.

“But for un­known rea­sons, and with­out au­tho­ri­sa­tion from (the) NUL Coun­cil, Prof Siverts de­cided to move out of her of­fi­cial res­i­dence in Roma to a rented house in town which cost the univer­sity M11 000 while a se­cu­rity ser­vice cost M11 111.51 to­talling M22, 573.69 per month,” she said.

“All th­ese events com­pelled the univer­sity coun­cil to es­tab­lish a three mem­ber com­mis­sion of in­quiry which rec­om­mended the re­cov­ery of the fi­nan­cial loss in­curred from Prof Siverts.”

The NAWU chair­per­son also said Dr Phamotse should not in­ter­vene in the mat­ter, since it was a con­trac­tual is­sue.

“If the em­ployee (Prof Siverts) felt that she had been treated un­fairly, she should have ap­proached the courts of law for in­ter­ven­tion,” said Ms Mokupo.

“By rais­ing this is­sue of pay­ment, the min­is­ter gives us an im­pres­sion that she in­tends to re­verse coun­cil’s de­ci­sion in this mat­ter.”

Con­tacted for com­ment, Dr Phamotse said the NUL coun­cil, and not NAWU, should com­ment on the mat­ter.

“If the NUL coun­cil takes a stance on the mat­ter, it would be well- placed to re­spond as I was mak­ing the state­ment to them and not to NAWU.

“It is wrong for NAWU to be in­sin­u­at­ing what I said and did not say,” said Dr Phamotse.

“I have no per­sonal in­ter­est what­so­ever in the mat­ter. All I am do­ing is try­ing to en­sure that we set­tle all out­stand­ing is­sues as I am also do­ing the same with other in­sti­tu­tions.

“It’s also im­por­tant to note that the for­mer vice-chan­cel­lor (Prof Siverts) never com­mu­ni­cated with me in per­son, but with the of­fice of the Chief Education Of­fi­cer of the ter­tiary depart­ment in this min­istry.”

On his part, the ter­tiary depart­ment’s act­ing Chief Education Of­fi­cer, Ralenkoane Makhube, said Prof Siverts was seek­ing re­im­burse­ment for rental and se­cu­rity ex­penses dur­ing her stay in Maseru. He said the Amer­i­can pro­fes­sor was jus­ti­fied in mov­ing to Maseru given the threats to her safety in Roma.

“The univer­sity should have paid Prof Siverts’ hous­ing and se­cu­rity ex­penses be­cause she was com­pelled to re­lo­cate to Maseru as a re­sult of threats to her se­cu­rity dur­ing the strikes that were tak­ing place at NUL at the time,” he said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.