THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has thrown its weight behind Lesotho’s teachers in their quest to force the government to award them salary increments and improve their working conditions.
COSATU, the largest federation of South African trade unions, called on the government to grant the teachers’, saying this would also improve the learning and teaching environment in Lesotho.
Last month, the teachers resolved to embark on a month-long nationwide strike with effect from 2 August to 2 September to force the government to address their demands for salary increments and improved working conditions.
The teachers, who have coalesced under the Lesotho Teachers’ Association (LAT), Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU) and Lesotho Schools Principals Association (LeSPA), said they would not hesitate to indefinitely extend the strike if government would not have addressed their grievances by 2 September.
When schools opened last month, some teachers heeded the strike call while others especially those who are not members of the LAT, LTTU and LeSPA went to work as normal.
And in a recent statement, the provincial secretary of the Free State province branch of COSATU, Monyatso oa Mahlatsi, said his organisation “empathised with the plight of the educators in Lesotho” and fully supported them in their quest to “advance and consolidate their rights as professional workers”.
COSATU also urged the public to support the teachers as their demands were progressive and also intended to benefit the learners as well.
“COSATU extends its support to the educators in Lesotho as they seek to advance and consolidate their rights as professional workers,” COSATU said.
“We empathise with the plight of the educators in Lesotho and we put our weight and support behind them as they continue to fight for their rights. We welcome the joint approach of both LAT and LTTU to confront the issues of their members and we implore on them to prioritise their unity as they move forward.”
Some of the teachers’ grievances include payment of outstanding salaries and allowances.
The teachers want the government to pay them salary arrears on their performance-based contracts dating back to 2009. They also want the government to pay salaries that are commensurate with their academic and professional qualifications as well as weed out ghost workers from the payroll.
They even want Education and Training Minister Ntoi Rapapa to sack the Chief Executive Officer of the Teaching Service Department, ’Maselloane Sehlabi, who they accuse of maladministration and being a stumbling block to negotiations between them and the government.
They have received the backing of COSATU who said that “the demands of the teachers are intended to improve the learning and teaching environment and (they are) not only centred on the needs of workers”.
“We urge the community to support these progressive issues which are intended to benefit the learners as well,” COSATU added.