Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) and government have signed a consent order for teachers to resume work today and also have a court case that government opened against TUM postponed pending negotiations.
The consent order, which the two parties signed yesterday at the Industrial Relations Court in Lilongwe, follows government’s application for an injunction to restrain teachers from staging a strike.
The application was also made while TUM and government were engaged in discussions over teachers concerns for personal protective equipment (PPE) allowances.
The consent order states that TUM members shall resume duties by the start of business on April 13 2021 and that the matter be postponed pending further negotiations between the parties and that government should file a notice of postponement.
In an interview, TUM’s lawyer Madalitso Kausi justified the consent order, saying it was necessary to have negotiations first before parties can start thinking of court battles.
He said: “For us to be coming to court to argue whether the strike was legal or not, we may lose time. So, we agreed that the teachers should resume work and the case be postponed to allow dialogue. Our view is that it is premature to be coming to court now.”
TUM president Willie Malimba in a separate interview called on teachers to return to work today as TUM and government continue with negotiations on teachers’ demands for PPE allowances.
He said he was hopeful that the negotiations will be fruitful, adding that if something reasonable does not come out of the negotiations, the teachers will take action.
Said Malimba: “I am sure something good will come out of the meetings. As you may recall, on April 8 we had a meeting which we were supposed to conclude on April 9, but we failed to conclude because of the document we got from court.”
Teachers are demanding PPE allowances and have been staging a strike to push government to give them money.
TUM and Ministry of Education earlier agreed that government should stop providing teachers with PPE and instead give teachers money to buy PPE to protect themselves from Covid-19.
However, Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 rejected the recommendation to give teachers the allowances, which did not please teachers who resorted to resuming to strike.