Teachers, govt hold talks

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’Marafaele Mohloboli

EDUCATION and Training Minister, Ntoi Rapapa, is set to meet leaders of the teachers’ unions today to discuss their grievances and avert possible industrial action.

A fortnight ago, 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.

Today’s meeting is being held after the teachers’ threat to stage a full-blown strike if the government does not address their demands within 14 days of receiving their petition.

Thousands of teachers from across 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.

LeSPA representative, Tšepo Lethobane, this week told the Lesotho Times that their patience had worn thin and they expected tangible results from today’s meeting with the minister.

“We have been through negotiations before and now we want money and nothing else,” Mr Lethobane said, adding, “We expect the minister to give us tangible answers or we will turn to the courts of law or down tools”.

“We also want the minister to release grants to schools as should be the case and more teachers should be hired to relieve those who are overburdened.

“We don’t want promises this time around but we want money and things to be fixed. We want the Minister to do away with Ms Sehlabi and the ghost workers.

“Our pleas have gone unheeded over the years and our patience has worn thin. If the status quo remains unchanged, we shall resort to other means that will negatively affect the learners and the nation as a whole.”

His sentiments were echoed by the chairperson of LAT, Letsatsi Ntsibolane, who said previous appeals to the government had not yielded any concrete results.

“We have exhausted other means hence we decided to petition the minister.

“Teachers are not paid according to their qualifications even after furthering their studies. If a holder of a diploma decides to further their education, they are still paid on the basis of the initial qualification.

“Besides that, some of the principals have not been paid allowances for many years and yet there are ghost workers who are draining the coffers,” Mr Ntsibolane said.

 

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