The wrangles between Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) and Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MoEST) seem far from being over.
The Union has written the ministry asking for immediate payment of teachers’ salary arrears and issuing of promotional letters to self-upgraded teachers who passed interviews in May 2015.
In a letter dated July 13, 2017 made available to The Nation and addressed to Secretary for Education Science and Technology, the union indicated that even though the ministry paid salary arrears to some teachers in April and May 2017, many of them were left out.
It has since asked the ministry to fully pay and clear all the existing salary arrears by October 2017 failure which they will lay down their tools.
In the letter signed by TUM President Willie Malimba and secretary general Charles Kumchenga, and copied to Chief Secretary- Office of the President and Cabinet, Principal Secretaries (PS) for Treasury and Ministry of Local Government among others, the teachers also called for immediate decentralization of auditing of salary vouchers for teachers to fast track the process of payment of the salary arrears and reduce work log at the ministry headquarters.
Reads the letter in part: “It is the wish of Teachers Union of Malawi that Ministry of Education should surrender the vouchers immediately so that August and September 2017 are reserved for audit at each council and that all the existing salary arrears should be fully paid and cleared by October 2017. TUM shall be compelled to call for an industrial action should this deadline, which provides ample time for your action, be missed.”
TUM in the statement urged the ministry to fast track the processing of promotion letters to self-upgraded secondary teachers and lecturers from Teacher Training Colleges as well as special needs teachers who have not yet been issued with letters of promotion despite passing their long awaited interviews in May 2015.
“We urge the ministry to fast track the processing of the promotion letters to the affected teachers who should receive them by 31st July 2017 and that their corresponding salaries should be adjusted to suit their new grades by month-end of August 2017.
TUM wishes to put on record that any deliberate attempt to miss these deadlines shall attract a call to all teachers not to open schools come September 18, 2017,” it reads.
Furthermore, TUM has urged the Ministry to seriously consider placing the newly recruited and deployed IPTE 9 and ODL 4 teachers on the payroll by month end of August 2017 to avoid accumulation of arrears.
Commenting on the matter, Principal Secretary in the Ministry Ken Ndala said his office is already in consultation with the treasury and office of the Accountant General so that they settle the arrears as quickly as possible.
On the promotion of teachers, Ndala said the Teachers Service Commission has already approved 120 secondary school teachers and that it is in the process of writing them letters of promotion.
“As the ministry we are equally concerned with the welfare of our teachers and we are doing everything possible to make sure they are happy,” he said, adding that his office is already engaging TUM on the matter so that all issues are resolved amicably.
Last month, the teachers engaged in a nationwide strike to force government to pay them leave grants for the 2016/2017 financial year.