LILONGWE-(MaraviPost) – The Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) on Saturday called off the ongoing national-wide strikes after government paid teachers the teachers leave grants in fourteen districts. This follows a late Friday afternoon Tête-à-tête session between President Mutharika, Government ministry officials from Finance and Education and the TUM leadership.
Following the successful intervention, TUM has therefore, asked both Government primary and secondary school teachers to resume their normal duties starting Monday June 19.
The teachers who have been on the industrial action since June 5, this year were disappointed when Government excluded primary school teachers in the 2017/2018 national budget; some districts primary school teachers were owed leave grants arrears.
The Union said that the strike was necessary in getting Government to pay the affected teachers.
But in a press statement released and signed by Willie Malimba and Charles Kumchenga, TUM’s President and Secretary-General respectively, said the strike was called off after noting that by Friday, June 16, Government had paid teachers the June 2017 salaries and leave grants for 2016/2017 fiscal year.
The Union said the remaining districts, except four, had transactions for their salaries and leave grants sent to Reserve Bank of Malawi from the Accountant General.
Since this process was completed in the late hours of Friday, June 16, 2017, teachers in the affected districts are expected to access their June salaries and leave grants on Monday, June 19, 2017.
It said the transactions for the remaining four districts, Likoma, Chitipa, Lilongwe, and Chiradzulu, are being processed over the weekend because there were some technical challenges in the balancing of the payrolls.
According to the statement, the Accountant General has assured TUM that transactions for these four districts will be sent to Reserve Bank of Malawi by Monday, June 19, 2017 and those teachers in these districts will access their June 2017 salary and leave grants in the afternoon of Monday or latest, Tuesday, June 20, 2017.
In the event of any teachers being erroneously omitted, District Education Managers, are urged to quickly submit the particulars of such teachers to the relevant authorities for processing of their leave grants together with the July 2017 salary.
“Teachers Union of Malawi, while thanking Government for the funding and payment of the leave grants, wishes to implore Government to always treat teachers’ challenges with the deserved urgency. The strike which teachers engaged in, could have been avoided, had Government taken heed of the advice and submissions from TUM.
“It is therefore, due to the foregoing that Teachers Union of Malawi, announces the call-off of the strike, and urges all teachers to resume their work on Monday, 19th June 2017. At the same time, Teachers Union of Malawi wishes to inform all Government officials, particularly those from the District Councils and District Education Managers, to desist from imposing measures of retribution to any of the teachers who took part in the legally called-for strike. Such actions (of retribution) will only trigger fury and anger on the already suffering teachers, and the Teachers Union of Malawi will use all its industrial means, to frustrate any such moves from any Government official,” urges the TUM statement.
The Union applauds all secondary school teachers for participating in the strike in solidarity with their fellow primary school teachers. Saying it displayed a sense of unity among all teachers in Malawi.
President Peter Mutharika personally intervened on the matter on Friday, after he held talks with the TUM leadership. He directed Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Education to resolve the teachers’ grievances regarding the leave grants by close of business of that day.
President Mutharika’s intervention comes barely a few days after the budget session of Parliament currently under way in the capital Lilongwe on Monday afternoon nearly went into pandemonium after the main Malawi Congress Party’ (MCP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Salima North-West Jessie Kabwila moved the motion to curtain the day’s deliberation to pave way for Government to address the teachers’ nationwide strikes with urgency.
MP Kabwira went further asking Minister of Education Emmanuel Fabiano to resign for being accused of gross of incompetency and inept to address teachers’ woes and labor disputes at Chancellor College, a constituent of University of Malawi for over half a year now.
Even, the country’s Civil Society Education Coalition (CSEC), which is an alliance of 82 local and international organizations with its partners in education sector on Tuesday asked President Peter Mutharika to exercise prerogative powers to resolve the current teachers’ arrears woes and University of Malawi-Chanco labor saga.