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No pay for striking teachers

by Lesotho Times
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Mohalenyane Phakela

TEACHERS who have continued with their strike despite a government directive that they return to work will not receive their salaries, the Minister of Education and Training, Professor Ntoi Rapapa, said yesterday.

Prof Rapapa said the government will conduct inspections in all schools and teachers will not be paid for the days they were absent from work.

The government move follows last month’s decision by teachers to go on a month-long nationwide strike with effect from 2 August to 2 September to force the government to address their demands for salary increments and improved working conditions.

The teachers, who have coalesced under the Lesotho Teachers’ Association (LAT), Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) and Lesotho Schools Principals Association (LeSPA), said they would not hesitate to indefinitely extend the strike if government would not have addressed their grievances by 2 September.

When schools opened last month, some teachers heeded the strike call while others especially those who are not members of the LAT, LTTU and LeSPA went to work as normal.

Speaking at a press conference at his Maseru offices yesterday, Prof Rapapa said the government will invoke the ‘no work, no pay’ principle to deal with teachers who went ahead with the job action despite government’s appeal to them to go to work while their grievances were being addressed.

“Three teachers unions vowed not to teach students unless their grievances were addressed and even when the government began to address their issues, they still did not go to work,” Prof Rapapa said yesterday.

“The government will soon start the full-scale inspection of schools and teachers found to have been absent from work will not be paid for the days they missed. The ‘no work no pay’ principle is a legal instrument which has been in existence for a long time and it has been used in various instances and this case is not an exception.

“The government, as the teachers’ employer, will further take legal action against teachers who have interfered with students’ learning and/or examinations. Those found guilty of instigating violence or had a stake in the destruction of property will also face legal action,” he said.

Prof Rapapa also said that the government will on Monday launch the dialogue which should culminate in the amendment of the teachers’ salaries and career structures framework to address the grievances of the teachers.

Among the teachers’ grievances were that the principals who hired on ‘performance contract’ basis in 2013 should be paid their gratuities for the three years they served on a contractual basis.

Prof Rapapa said the principals could not be paid the gratuities while they remained in government service and the gratuities would only be paid once they were no longer employed by the government.

He however, said that the government would allow the principals to apply for advances on their gratuities which would be deducted when they eventually start receiving the gratuities upon leaving government service.

“M23 million has been set aside to offer those 135 principals advances on the gratuities they qualify for. The amount which they would have borrowed will be deducted from their gratuities when they part ways with the government. There will not be any interest charged on the borrowed amount,” Prof Rapapa said.

Prof Rapapa also said that the government had begun constructing classrooms in 19 different schools countrywide.

The list includes Leqele High School, Baroana Primary School and Qhomane High School in Maseru. In Berea the beneficiaries are Mantoetsi Secondary School, Pitsaneng Primary School and Maime Principal School.

The Thaba Tseka schools are Ntaote High School and Fika-lea-oa Primary School while Leribe schools such as Mate Secondary School, Qoqolosing Primary School, Mojapela Primary School and Le-oa-oa Primary School are set to benefit.  St Gabriel High School, Matsiring Primary School and Tele Primary School in Quthing will benefit while in Mokhotlong, Letšeng Primary School and Phahameng Secondary School will benefit. Mekaling Secondary School in Mohale’s Hoek and Sebelekoane Secondary School in Mafeteng complete the list of beneficiaries.

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