Public primary and secondary school teachers are today set to start their nationwide strike following government’s failure to address several issues affecting their welfare, including outstanding leave grants.
Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) has also accused presidential adviser on civil society organisations, Mavuto Bamusi, of misinforming the teachers that the strike had been called off.
In an interview yesterday, TUM president Willie Malimba said the teachers have not changed their mind on the matter because government has failed to address their grievances.
He said: “Since we announced the strike on Thursday [last week], we have seen Mr Bamusi going on the public broadcaster, Malawi Broadcasting Corporation, claiming that the strike has been called off.
“But I wish to assure all the teachers across the country that the strike is on. We are not returning to work until government addresses our grievances.”
But Bamusi has condemned the teachers for deciding to go on strike, saying government was already addressing their grievances.
He said Treasury had already started processing leave grants and that the last will be paid together with the June 2017 salaries.
Initially, the union was battling the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) over 24 grievances which, among others, included withdrawal of teachers’ promotions, failure by government to effect salary adjustments for the teachers promoted in 2013, failure by the ministry to pay leave grants to secondary school teachers for the 2015/16 financial year ending June 30 2016 and delayed payment of salary arrears for primary school teachers.
It also expressed dissatisfaction with the manner in which MoEST handled promotions and salary adjustments for teachers promoted to Grade TJ/PT2 in 2013.
Government demanded that the promoted teachers should move to rural-based schools using personal finances, adding that those who failed to comply with this requirement had their promotions withdrawn.
On Thursday, Malimba told journalists in Lilongwe that the ministry has only managed to pay leave grants, leaving a bigger chunk of their grievances hanging.
A statement signed by Malimba and TUM secretary general Charles Kumchenga states that other outstanding issues include failure by government to settle K353 million salary arrears (split in two categories of K103 million and K250 million) and delays by the ministry to issue letters of promotions.
The statement emphasises that government shall take “full responsibility of the aftermath of this industrial action” through its negligence in dealing with the matter with the urgency it deserved.
In his reaction, Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe backed the teachers for the stand they have taken on the matter, saying the teachers were merely demanding what was due to them.
MoEST spokesperson Lindiwe Chide said the matter was being handled by Treasury.
In an earlier interview on Thursday, Secretary to the Treasury Ben Botolo said Treasury has processed all the requests by the union based on submissions made.
While distancing the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development from involvement in dealing with actual payments, Botolo said teachers to receive the leave grants were those who made the submissions and their payments were being processed.
TUM boasts the largest constituency of civil servants with a membership of about 37 000 in both public primary and secondary schools out of the estimated teacher population of 78 000. n