NEWLY appointed Education and Training Minister, Mokoto Hloaele, has admitted government bungling in the implementation of the controversial ‘no work no pay’ policy against striking teachers.
Mr Hloaele said more than 2000 teachers were erroneously deleted from the Human Resource (HRIS) system and were not paid their salaries even though they reported for work during the teachers’ strike in September this year.
He made the admission while addressing the national assembly on Thursday, saying this was a grave mistake on the part of government and “investigations are ongoing to find out what really transpired”.
The government slashed the September 2019 salaries of about 4 000 teachers who went on strike to press for better pay in line with its no work no pay policy.
Each of the affected teachers had about M2 500 deducted from their salaries. Teachers’ unions vowed to fight the decision.
The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Education and Training, Thabang Lebese, confirmed that the 4 000 teachers had their September salaries slashed by up to M2 500 to cover for the days they did not report for work.
Entry level gross salaries for teachers are pegged at M7 500 per month while senior teachers earn M9 000 per month. The implementation of the ‘no work no pay’ policy means that some teachers will earn very little after statutory and other deductions.
The teachers, who coalesced under the banner of three teachers’ unions- the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT), Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) and the Lesotho School Principals Association (LeSPA), downed tools on 12 August 2019.
They went on strike to press the government to award them an eight percent salary increment for the 2019/20 financial year.
They also wanted the government to weed out ghost workers from the payroll.
However, the government said it could not afford the eight percent increment and the two parties subsequently agreed that the increment would be implemented in the next financial year.
Early last month the government warned the teachers to call off their “illegal” strike failing which, it would implement a no work, no pay policy.
Government subsequently docked salaries of teachers and many of them subsequently complained that they had deductions even though they had reported for work during the strike.
And on Thursday, Mr Hloaele who replaced former education minister Professor Ntoi Rapapa in a 3 October 2019 cabinet reshuffle, admitted government bungling in the implementation of the controversial ‘no work no pay’ policy against striking teachers.
He said while it was a cabinet decision to apply the no work no pay principle to punish striking teachers, some teachers who reported for work during the strike were not paid while some who stayed away were paid.
He however, pleaded with the affected teachers to be patient, saying the mistake would be rectified in November.
“We therefore appeal for cooperation from all the teachers during this period,” Mr Hloaele said.
He said the government was doing everything in its power to address the teachers’ grievances and warned legislators against politicising the challenges for political mileage.
The restive teachers initially went on strike in February 2019 to force the government to address their long-standing demands for salary increments and improved working conditions.
They only called off the job action after the government promised to address their grievances. However, they lost patience with the government’s slow pace of dealing with their issues and they went on strike again on 12 August 2019.