Ntsebeng Motsoeli | Mohalenyane Phakela
TEACHERS are divided over the newly proposed Teachers’ Career and Salary Structures which are supposed to be implemented in the 2020/21 financial year.
The Revised Teachers’ Career Structure was published on 19 September 2019 while the Revised Teachers’ Salary Structure was published on 6 March 2020.
However, a group of aggrieved primary school teachers last week successfully petitioned the High Court to interdict the implementation of the two structures.
They are unhappy with the M1300 variation between the primary and secondary teachers’ salaries which the new structure will introduce at entry level. At entry level, high school teachers will earn M1300 more than their primary school counterparts despite holding the same qualifications.
For teachers who are already employed by the government, holders of Diplomas in primary and secondary education will respectively earn M124 357 and M124 919 annually. The two will have a variation of M213, 50. Both primary and secondary school teachers with Diplomas previously earned M123 204 annually.
Primary school teachers who hold degrees will earn M162 006 while those in secondary schools will take home M163 409 per year. Secondary school teachers will therefore earn M116, 92 more monthly than their primary school counterparts. They both previously earned M160 008 per annum.
There will no salary differences for primary and secondary school teachers who hold Honours and Masters Degrees. Their annual salaries have been improved from M180 984 to M183 524 for Honours Degree holders and from M185 484 to M188 307 for teachers with Masters Degrees.
Justice Tšeliso Monapathi last week issued an interim interdict in favour of the aggrieved teachers staying the implementation of the revised Teachers’ Salary and Career Structures of 2019 until the matter is heard. The matter was initially supposed to be heard on 7 April 2020 but has now been postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing Coronavirus induced lockdown.
“The implementation of the Teachers’ Career Structure 2019… Teachers’ Salary Structure 2019 shall be stayed pending the final determination of this application,” Justice Monapathi’s interim order states.
The government, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, Teaching Service Commission, Teaching Council, Principal Secretary Ministry of Education, Attorney General, Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU), Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), Progressive Association of Lesotho Teachers (PALT) and Lesotho Schools Principals Association (LeSPA) are first to 11th respondents respectively.
In terms of final reliefs, the teachers want the salary structures to be nullified on grounds that they were revised and approved in contravention of the Education Act of 2010.
“The decision of the first and second respondents to initiate, revise and approve the revised Teachers’ Career Structure 2019… Teachers’ Salary Structure 2019 and to implement the said structure(s) by 1 April 2020 shall be reviewed, corrected and set aside as ultra vires and illegal therefore unlawful, null and void.
“The revised Teachers’ Career Structure and the Teachers’ Salary Structure 2019 shall be declared irregular, unlawful, null and void for being initiated, revised and approved by first and second respondents without legal authority and contrary to Education Act 2010.
“The publication by the sixth respondent of the revised Teachers’ Career Structure 2019 and Teachers’ Salary Structure 2019 shall be declared irregular, unlawful, null and void. Teaching Service (Amendment) Regulations 2016 shall be declared null and void and of no force and effect in law for contravening section 27A and 27B of the Interpretation (Amendment) Act 1993,” the teachers’ say in their papers.
In his founding affidavit, one of the primary school teachers, Makhetha Tšephe, said the teachers want the two structures nullified in that they crafted by the Ministry of Education and Training instead of the Teaching Council as stipulated by Education Act of 2010.
“In initiating, reviewing, revising and publishing the revised Teachers’ Career Structure 2019, and deciding to be implemented on 1 April 2020, the first and second respondents failed to appreciate and understand the limit of their own powers; went beyond their respective legal powers; usurped the powers and authority of the Teaching Council; and therefore acted illegally and unlawfully.
“Only the Teaching Council has the authority to perform the acts done by the first and second respondents in the present instance and consequently the act and the decision of the first and second respondents is null and void and so the revised Teachers’ Career Structure 2019,” Mr Tšephe states.
The new salary structure was developed during negotiations between government and various teachers’ unions to address teachers’ longstanding grievances concerning their working conditions and salary structure which was last reviewed in 2009.
In the negotiations, teachers were represented by their unions, LAT, LTTU and LeSPA.
LAT secretary general Letsatsi Ntsibolane said the primary school teachers’ complaints were misinformed and that all teachers’ representatives were involved in the crafting of the new salary structures.
He said the court case was a deliberate attempt to create confusion among teachers by elements who are hoping to get traction for a new union.
“This confusion is being deliberately caused by some individuals who want to form and new teachers’ association and they are feeding wrong information to the teachers so that they can turn their backs on their current union,” Mr Ntsibolane said.
He also alleged that there was a political force behind the disgruntled teachers.
“We know that there is a political force behind them…this is my own opinion.”
Mr Ntsibolane however, refused to divulge whom he suspected was behind the court case saying it was “a story for another day”.
Mr Ntsibolane said it would be best if they let the structure to be implemented as it is so that we could later work on its shortcomings.
“We have not worked so long and hard, risking our lives in the process just to cause differences between primary and secondary schools’ teachers. The structure was developed in the presence of representatives from primary and secondary school teachers,” Mr Ntsibolane said.