Union presses minister to address crisis in education

MASERU — Congress of Lesotho Trade Unions (Coletu) members on Monday staged a sit-in at Education Minister ‘Mamphono Khaketla’s office to press her to address problems in tertiary institutions.

Coletu secretary general, Vuyani Tyhali, said the union members camped at Khaketla’s office for about five hours demanding to meet her.

Tyhali said they only left after they were addressed by education ministry deputy principal secretary ‘Mota Sekonyela.

He said Sekonyela pledged to take their grievances to the minister and set up a meeting between the two parties.

“We arrived at around 2pm and were only attended to at about 7.30pm. We want the Ministry of Education to delegate a group of people to work with us to help solve problems in our tertiary institutions,” Tyhali said.

The sit-in comes after a spate of strikes hit tertiary institutions in the past four weeks leading to the indefinite closure of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) last week.

The university was shut down last Wednesday after non-academic staff joined the strike by lecturers and researchers.

The lecturers were demanding a 15 percent salary increase while non-academic staff members were demanding a halt to the restructuring exercise at the university.

Lecturers at Lerotholi Polytechnic and Limkokwing University of Creative Technology have also been mired in disputes with their employers during the same period.

Last week Coletu said the union will support its disgruntled affiliates at the three troubled institutions.

Coletu alleged that management at the three institutions had a “culture of snubbing” the unions in making decisions.

“It is not only the NUL administration that refuses to engage workers’ unions in talks but also the Lerotholi Polytechnic. The administrations at our tertiary institutions bash unions,” Coletu said.

“As Coletu we support the initiatives of our affiliates. We will in due course call on all Coletu affiliates to battle, as an injury to one is an injury to all.”

But Limkokwing corporate secretary Tefo Macheli dismissed Coletu’s allegations as untrue. He said it was a lie that management at Limkokwing ignored decisions reached with employees.

“It’s a blatant lie. We have two unions here at Limkokwing and they are recognised by the management. We invite the unions to discuss all the matters that affect them,” Macheli said.

“It is also a blatant lie that we reach agreements with the employees only to renege later. They should give us one incident where we reneged on what we had agreed with the employees.”

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