Give us our money or we strike: teach­ers

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

EX­EC­U­TIVES from teach­ers’ unions who pe­ti­tioned Prime Min­is­ter Thomas Tha­bane last month are seek­ing an ur­gent meet­ing with him af­ter he “failed” to re­spond to their griev­ances which in­clude pay­ment of out­stand­ing salaries.

The teach­ers also threat­ened a full-blown strike if their de­mands are not met.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Le­sotho Schools Prin­ci­pals’ As­so­ci­a­tion (LeSPA), Tšepo Lethobane, re­cently told the Sun­day Ex­press that the unions want the meet­ing as soon as to­mor­row, adding they will “have to re­sort to other means” if their is­sues are not ad­dressed.

Last month, thou­sands of dis­grun­tled teach­ers pe­ti­tioned Dr Tha­bane over pay­ment is­sues amid in­di­ca­tions that their talks with Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing Min­is­ter Ntoi Ra­papa failed to yield de­sired out­comes.

Prof Ra­papa met the teach­ers’ unions on 6 April this year to dis­cuss the teach­ers’ griev­ances and avert in­dus­trial ac­tion.

The talks came two weeks af­ter the teach­ers staged a demon­stra­tion in Maseru dur­ing which they handed a pe­ti­tion to the min­is­ter, call­ing on the gov­ern­ment to ad­dress their griev­ances which in­clude pay­ment of out­stand­ing salaries and al­lowances.

Teach­ers from all over the coun­try have co­a­lesced un­der the Le­sotho Teacher’s As­so­ci­a­tion (LAT), Le­sotho Teach­ers Trade Union (LTTU) and Le­sotho Schools Prin­ci­pals As­so­ci­a­tion (LeSPA).

They want the gov­ern­ment to pay them ar­rears on their per­for­mance-based con­tracts dat­ing back to 2009. They also want the gov­ern­ment to pay salaries that are com­men­su­rate with their aca­demic and pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions as well as weed out ghost work­ers from the pay­roll.

They even want Min­is­ter Ra­papa to sack the Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the Teach­ing Ser­vice De­part­ment, ’Masel­loane Sehlabi, who they ac­cuse of mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion and be­ing a stum­bling block to ne­go­ti­a­tions.

But even af­ter their pe­ti­tion, they feel that Dr Tha­bane has not ad­dressed their con­cerns hence the lat­est res­o­lu­tion to seek an ur­gent meet­ing with the pre­mier.

“Af­ter our Thurs­day meet­ing as ex­ec­u­tives of the three teach­ers’ unions which pe­ti­tioned the PM (Dr Tha­bane), we have no choice but to re­quest a meet­ing with the PM since he has failed to ad­dress our is­sues.

“The only thing that the PM has done is to copy and paste the let­ter which we first re­ceived as a re­sponse (to our griev­ances) from the Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion and change the sig­na­ture to his.

“We are not happy at all be­cause the PM has failed to give us a sat­is­fac­tory re­sponse. He has not given time frames to some of the is­sues which he at­tempted to re­spond to. All that we need is money and not prom­ises,” Mr Lethobane said.

TEACH­ERS’ unions dur­ing the march to pe­ti­tion Prime Min­is­ter last month.

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