Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) has engaged Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) to intervene on the teachers personal protective equipment (PPE) allowances which government promised last year.
Government and TUM signed a court consent order in April this year to hold dialogue on demands for teachers PPE allowances.
The teachers have been demanding allowances to buy PPE to protect themselves from Covid-19 during classes.
However, TUM says there has been no progress on the matter and government has also failed to provide PPE to schools.
TUM president Willy Malimba said on Monday that MCTU as the mother body for workers in the country has to intervene to promote the welfare of teachers amid Covid-19 pandemic.
“We are heavily affected but government has not shown commitment to protect the teachers and learners. Covid-19 cases are rising every day. Lives are being lost and the schools have not been spared,” said Malimba.
In an interview, MCTU president Charles Kumchenga said TUM has raised genuine concerns, adding that lives of teachers and learners are at risk due to unavailability of PPE in schools.
He said: “Teachers and learners in schools are in danger. We have already seen teachers and learners being infected. Cases are also going up. So, their concerns are indeed genuine.”
Kumchenga also said MCTU has since requested the Ministry of Labour for a meeting but they are yet to respond.
Ministry of Education spokesperson Chikondi Chimala said the issue allowances and related issues were under negotiations through the Government Negotiating Team (GNT).
However, he said the ministry is working on various interventions to ensure teachers and learners are safe in schools.
“Some of the interventions are; decongestion of classrooms through construction of 383 low-cost classrooms across the country most of which are in the final stages of completion.
“Drilling of 502 boreholes in schools with challenges to access to clean water to facilitate frequent handwashing per public health advice and distribution of face masks to schools across the country in January, this year when schools reopened, among others,” said Chimala.
TUM earlier agreed with government to stop providing PPE to teachers and instead give them money to buy PPEs for themselves.
TUM estimated that the PPE would cost between K50 000 and K60 000 a month for every teacher. There are over 100 000 teachers in the country.
However, government did not honour the agreement and later resorted to take legal action after teachers threatened to go on strike.
The two parties later decided to settle the matter out of court.