Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Hundreds of teachers face black independence long weekend

There will be no cheer for hundreds of broke teachers who face a black independence long weekend following a decision by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, Grace Muzila’s to deduct salaries of teachers who participated in the 2011 public sector strike.
 
Muzila has issued a savingram to all regional directors notifying them that teachers who participated in the 2011 public sector strike whose salaries were not deducted will be deducted in this month.
 
“Kindly find attached a list of teachers/officers who participated in the 2011 national industrial strike action but have not had any deductions on their salaries. By this communiqu├® please be noticed that deductions on the said officers /teachers would be effected from 1st September 2013 and you are urged to manage your officers,” the savingram reads in part
.
Teachers affected are from the following schools; Donga JSS, Setlalekgosi, Matsiloje JSS, Mater Spei College,Tashata JSS, Ramaja JSS, Phatsimo primary school, Tatitown primary, Mokaleng primary, Nyangabgwe JSS, Ntshe primary, Jacklas II primary and Francistown Senior secondary.
 
Responding to The Telegraph questionnaire, MOESD public relations officer, Silas Sehularo said reconciliation of records of the ministry employees who participated in the strike differed in the number of days across all the ten regions and slowed the process of deductions.

The Telegraph sought to establish why it took the ministry two years to deduct the salaries.
 
“Verification of records of strike participants made the process slower. Note, MoESD had the highest number of employees in the strike; this compounded the problem as the process had to be done with utmost care,” he said.
 
Sehularo said a total of 1200 employees (teachers and officers) have been affected by this process. 
 
Asked whether the affected teachers have been informed of this decision, Sehularo answered in the affirmative.

He however refuted that the deductions of the salaries may strain the ministry’s relationship with teachers.
 
However, the secretary general of the Botswana Sector for Educators Trade Union (BOSETU), Tobokani Rari denied that their members have been informed of this decision.
 
He said the savingram was addressed to regional directors and that they never received any letter from the ministry.
“The union has not been informed of that decision. We have enquired with our members, they are also not aware of this decision. Many of them will be surprised to find their advice slips with a balance of zero- zero,” he said.

Rari said many teachers have now committed their salaries and some have borrowed money from the commercial banks as they legitimately assumed that government will never deduct money from their salaries.

“Two years is a very long time, government has set on her right. There is a plethora of case law that confirms that if one seats on their rights, they cannot later claim any right,” he said.

Asked whether they have engaged government on the matter, Rari said they have written a letter to Muzila advising her of her decision and that they have not got any reply thus far.

Two years back, many teachers who participated in the strike found themselves going home with nothing for about two months as government deducted all the money that the employees spent on the strike. The strike had lasted for two months.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper