Teachers call off strike

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Pascalinah Kabi

LOCAL teachers have called off a planned nationwide strike to protest government’s apparent failure to address their grievances, following a recent meeting they held with Education and Training Minister, Motlalentoa Letsosa.

The teachers had threatened to disrupt the opening of schools this week on Monday demanding government pays them for new qualifications as well as performance contracts among other grievances.

In October 2016, the ministry announced that it had amended the 2002 Teaching Service Regulations so that government would not be obliged to pay teachers for new qualifications obtained while they were already on the Teaching Service Department (TSD).

The amendment was with effect from 17 June, 2016.

This riled the teachers who threatened court action, arguing that refusing to pay for new qualifications was tantamount to failing to appreciate that education was an evolving profession and that teachers needed to upgrade their qualifications.

However, Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT) secretary general, Thaabe Kuleile this week told the Lesotho Times that they decided to call off the strike after holding two “successful” meetings with Minister Letsosa.

“Following two successful meetings with the Minister and his address at the Lesotho School Principals’ Association (LEPSA) General Meeting on Saturday, our members gave us a mandate to call off the strike and give the minister a chance to deal with our issues as he promised,” Mr Kuleile said.

“The minister conceded that whether the ministry did not have money or not, they were still required to pay salaries as per the signed performance contracts entered into by both parties. He promised that they would raise the funds to pay.

“We have a court case scheduled for 17 February challenging government’s decision not to pay the performance contract but we have decided that on the day, we will request a postponement as a sign of goodwill to give the minister a chance to deliver on his promises by end of March.”

He said the minister indicated that there was little he could do about the Teaching Service Regulations amendment, as it was passed by parliament, making it binding for the ministry not to pay for new qualifications.

He however said the union would meet with the minister to review the Regulations as they needed an overhaul.

“Once this process has been done, the minister will take the reviewed booklet to parliament for presentation and request that last year’s amendment be repealed and that the reviews be passed as regulations governing the teaching service in this country,” he said.

“We trust that the minister will make good on his word come the end of March 2017,” Mr Kuleile said.

Efforts to get the minister’s comments were fruitless as his phone was not reachable.

 

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