Give us our money or we strike: teachers

’Marafaele Mohloboli

EXECUTIVES from teachers’ unions who petitioned Prime Minister Thomas Thabane last month are seeking an urgent meeting with him after he “failed” to respond to their grievances which include payment of outstanding salaries.

The teachers also threatened a full-blown strike if their demands are not met.

A representative of Lesotho Schools Principals’ Association (LeSPA), Tšepo Lethobane, recently told the Sunday Express that the unions want the meeting as soon as tomorrow, adding they will “have to resort to other means” if their issues are not addressed.

Last month, thousands of disgruntled teachers petitioned Dr Thabane over payment issues amid indications that their talks with Education and Training Minister Ntoi Rapapa failed to yield desired outcomes.

Prof Rapapa met the teachers’ unions on 6 April this year to discuss the teachers’ grievances and avert industrial action.

The talks came two weeks after the 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.

Teachers from all over 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.

But even after their petition, they feel that Dr Thabane has not addressed their concerns hence the latest resolution to seek an urgent meeting with the premier.

“After our Thursday meeting as executives of the three teachers’ unions which petitioned the PM (Dr Thabane), we have no choice but to request a meeting with the PM since he has failed to address our issues.

“The only thing that the PM has done is to copy and paste the letter which we first received as a response (to our grievances) from the Minister of Education and change the signature to his.

“We are not happy at all because the PM has failed to give us a satisfactory response. He has not given time frames to some of the issues which he attempted to respond to. All that we need is money and not promises,” Mr Lethobane said.

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