Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) has given government up to end of this month to pay salary arrears for both public primary and secondary school teachers accumulated from 2009.
In a letter dated October 1 co-signed by president Willie Malimba, secretary general Charles Kumchenga and treasurer general Ernest Chirwa, addressed to Principal Secretary for Education, Science and Technology (MoEST), TUM has raised various grievances, including failure to promote teachers and inconsistencies on eligibility of rural allowances.
Reads the letter in part: “TUM wishes to express its disappointment [on the manner]in which government, through MoEST, and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development are handling teachers’ grievances. TUM wants to inform government that continuation of such shall trigger a dispute.”
In an interview on Tuesday, Kumchenga said the union will resuscitate plans for a nationwide teachers’ strike it suspended in July this year following an assurance from Treasury that the teachers would receive all salary arrears August end.
He said it was only a few teachers received the arrears which have been outstanding since 2009.
Explained Kumchenga: “We will not entertain this anymore. They should give teachers their money before 31st October 2018, failing which TUM will ignite the industrial action it suspended a few months ago.”
Asked if MoEST has received the letter and what it is doing on teachers grievances, ministry spokesperson Lindiwe Chide asked for more time to comment on the matter.
But in a separate interview, Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe supported TUM’s ultimatum, saying government is taking teachers for granted.
In June this year, TUM announced that it would stage a nationwide strike on July 9 to protest against government’s delay to pay the arrears, then estimated at K1.7 billion.
The strike was suspended after government said the teachers would receive their arrears August end. n