Relief for learners as teachers return to work
NORMAL learning will resume in schools tomorrow after teachers agreed to end their two months-old strike to press the government to award them salary increments and improve their working conditions.
The resumption of normal learning follows an agreement between the teachers and the government for the former to return to work while negotiations continue between the two parties.
For the past two months, learning has been affected with pupils being forced to return home as teachers only worked a week per month to force the government to address their demands.
The strike was instigated by three teachers’ unions, namely, the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) and the Lesotho School Principals Association (LeSPA). Ahead of the strike, the Teaching Service Department in the Ministry of Education fired LAT chairperson Letsatsi Ntsibolane on 30 January 2019 for allegedly neglecting his teaching duties last November and inciting teachers to go on an illegal strike.
Mr Ntsibolane has since been re-instated to his position.
Tomorrow, the teachers will end their job action and normal service will resume in the schools after the two parties recently released a joint statement indicating that the teachers agreed to go back to work while negotiations continue.
Both parties have agreed to continue with the review of the salary structure for the teachers which will be implemented in 2020/2021 fiscal year.
This follows a complaint by the teachers that their salary structures have not been reviewed for the past 10 years and therefore the government should award them a minimum eight per cent increment in the 2019/20 financial year.
Alternatively, the teachers demanded a tax credit of M1200 which would see their taxes reduced to enable them to take home more in disposable income.
However, government said it could not afford the eight percent compensatory increment but the two parties have agreed that this will be implemented in the next financial year. The government also indicated that it could not afford the M1200 tax credit.
“As government could not offer the eight percent in the 2019/20 financial year, both parties agreed to negotiate the eight percent salary increase in the 2020/2021 career and salary structure.
“Both parties agreed to increase the tax credit from M605 to M800 with effect from October 2019,” the joint statement says.
The government also agreed to promote 440 teachers who have been employed since 2016. The promotions will be effective upon the amendment of the teaching service regulations of 2002.
“A list of concerned teachers (has been) submitted and verified. A circular (was) issued for the submission of forms on or before 5 April 2019. The verification, vetting and budget allocation of all affected teachers shall be completed by the end of April 2019 and the submissions will be made to the cabinet for approval to amend the regulations,” the two parties state.
Teachers and government have also agreed that training for grade eight teachers will start this month for the effective implementation of the new curriculum, while the Ministry of Education and Training shall continue distributing the books to all secondary schools.
“It is agreed that delivery of the textbooks should be completed by the end of March 2019. By the 1st of April the ministry should begin the re-distribution of textbooks for top-ups where there are shortages for grade eight. Top-ups for other grades should also be delivered in this period,” the two parties further state.