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Teachers college fires lecturers

by Sunday Express
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Lesotho College of Education (LCE) Lectures during their strike last year

Lesotho College of Education (LCE) Lectures during their strike last year

Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

Lesotho College of Education (LCE) workers have vowed to continue protesting the dismissal of three lecturers on Wednesday.

The staffers picketed at the teachers’ training college on Friday following the sacking of Mpholo Leoisa, Mzikhulu Faku, and ’Mantsubise Mokhethi.

The trio was fired for allegedly taking part in an illegal strike and contravening the LCE dress code last year.

Mr Leoisa and Mr Faku were also Lesotho College of Education Staff Union (LECESU) secretary general and president and joined the Maseru-based college in 2006 and 2003, respectively. The duo had been suspended since September 2014 on full pay.

On the other hand, Ms Mokhethi joined the college in 1977, and was still reporting for duty until Wednesday’s dismissal.

Reads Mr Leoisa’s dismissal letter dated 5 August 2015 and signed by LCE Registrar Lineo Lepota: “You will remember that you were charged with the following alleged offences: Taking part in an illegal industrial action and contravention of the LCE Dress Code Policy of 2014 in a charge sheet you signed for on 23 March 2015.

“A disciplinary hearing on this matter was subsequently held from 27 April 2015 and concluded on 9 July 2015.

“After all the processes, the College Council sat on 31 July 2015 to consider the recommendations of the chairperson of the hearing and made a decision to accept the same— being to dismiss you from the college. Please note that your dismissal takes effect on the day you receive this letter.

“The following conditions of separation shall apply: Your payment in lieu of notice shall be three months (August to October 2015). The total gross salary payable shall be M50, 439.00;       A salary payment of M2, 344.00 will be deducted from the amount mentioned above; You will be provided with your provident fund contributions and the college contributions with accrued interest in terms of applicable rules of the Lesotho College of Education Provident Fund Rules;     You accrued 20 leave days in 2014/2015 and 18 days in 2015/2016—you will be paid up to 18 days for 2014/2015 at an amount of M12 415.17 and 18 days for 2015/2016 at an amount of M12 415.17 in terms of the Lesotho College of Education Leave Policy.

“By this letter, you are instructed to return all college property in your possession to the Acting Director-Human Resources on or before Friday, 7 August 2015 at 12:45pm.

“In line with the Lesotho College of Education Staff Housing Policy Section 4.13, you are instructed to vacate the college house within 30 days from the date of receipt of this letter.

“In terms of the Lesotho College of Education Staff Code of Conduct Section 16(ii) this decision is final as the process has been fully exhausted internally. Therefore, any disputes may be referred to the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR) in terms of the Labour Code provisions.”

The other two staffers received almost similarly worded letters but with different payout amounts.

However, the rest of the LECESU members say they would not rest until their colleagues are reinstated but their efforts to submit a petition to the management on Friday were unsuccessful.

According to LECESU vice-president Puleng Ramoshebi, treasurer Margaret Mphei and union member Soko Letsie, the management team comprising Acting Rector ’Mabataung Khati, Deputy Rector-Administration Lehlohonolo Manamolela and Ms Lepota allegedly refused to accept the petition.

Ms Ramoshebi said: “We gathered before the Administration Block to deliver our petition to the management this morning. As the rest of other members remained outside the block chanting, four union members, including myself, went to meet with management.

“We wanted them to come and receive our petition but they refused, saying if we want to challenge the dismissals, we better lodge a complaint with the DDPR. They said the dismissals were none of our business as a union.”

Repeated efforts by the Sunday Express to reach the LCE management for a comment were unsuccessful.

However, the Sunday Express is in possession of a copy of a letter Mr Manamolela wrote to Ms Ramoshebi regarding the petition.

Ms Ramoshebi had informed the management of the LECESU members’ intention to submit their list of grievances on Friday morning but in response, Mr Manamolela warned the staff against such action.

“I have received your letter dated  6 August 2015 on the above subject (petition). I have to sternly warn you that issues of dismissed employees are not matters for petitions. The appropriate petition to a dismissal is a formal appeal to the appropriate body.

“Should you march or be seen to participate in any unlawful activities on campus as individuals or groups, you will be charged with an offence of taking part in an unlawful industrial action. By this letter, I advise you to cancel whatever plans or intentions you had about bringing the petition to my office as it will be illegal.”

Meanwhile, the union is “soon” planning to march to the Minister of Education’s office to submit the petition, which reads: “LECESU, a union body at the Lesotho College of Education, is alarmed by the turn of events at the College. Two of our comrades were suspended in September 2014 and part-time lecturers engaged in their place. For one position, there was double payment of salaries, which in our view, worsened the already shaky financial status of the college.

“These two staff members were expelled together with one other comrade on 5 August 2015, for flimsy charges. We take this action by the college management as discriminatory because other individuals implicated in similar flimsy charges have been acquitted. The reasons for which they were tried apply to all of us as union members. However, the rest of the members were not charged.

“What is amazing in this unfortunate decision to dismiss these union members is that in 2013, the bursar, Ms Lisebo Ramaili-Ntsane, made death threats, insulted and assaulted Dr ’Makeletso Ntaote in full view of students and staff.

“She was charged for the conduct and found guilty on four counts but she was acquitted. We have since requested the College Council to make available the grounds on which she was acquitted but in vain.

“Also, the DRA, Mr Lehlohonolo Manamolela, manhandled a security officer at the Maseru campus in full view of staff and students. Ironically, no action was taken against him despite the union’s efforts to have him answer for his actions.

“On the basis of the foregoing we demand that: The dismissed comrades be reinstated forthwith; All of us be tried ; Ms Lisebo Ramaili-Ntsane be dismissed as the sanction for her conduct warrants the same (LCE Code of Conduct 2007); Mr Lehlohonolo Manamolela should be taken to a disciplinary tribunal to establish the facts around the alleged conduct. Failure of management to cooperate with these demands will leave us with no choice but to further explore means to ensure justice is served.”

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