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Divisions rock teachers’ union

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Divisions have rocked the Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) and this is said to be one factor that is contributing to the union’s failure to address the needs of its members.

Towards the end of last year, Tum threatened to mobilise its members for a nationwide strike following government’s failure to pay K250 million arrears to teachers.

But even though the arrears were not settled, the strike never took place and some teachers have questioned the union’s silence on the matter.

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Inside sources confided in The Daily Times that there are divisions in the union’s executive committee rendering the body powerless to fight for teachers’ rights.

In an interview on Wednesday, Tum President, Chauluka Muwake, confirmed that there are some in-house divisions within Tum which compelled him to cancel the teachers’ nationwide strike that was scheduled for November 30, 2016.

Muwake said the divisions are a sign that the teachers are not determined to push the government to settle their arrears.

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“If the teachers could have started the strike themselves, we could have seen that they really want to be paid but their silence means they are giving a signal to the government that they don’t want the strike, meaning it’s only us the leaders that want the demonstration, this means we have goofed come what may,” he said.

He said some Tum members give contrary advice to the teachers whenever there are issues.

“The in-house divisions are going to end. That is why I am saying when I noticed that I was fighting the war with two people, my own office at the teachers union and the office of the Ministry of Education and the government machinery, then I thought of opting out, now I wanted to leave by leaving the case to the teachers themselves,” he explained.

According to Muwake, government is taking advantage of the situation.

“That’s why government has also taken advantage not to pay the arrears. This time they are doing it little by little. They are trying to write letters of promotion but now the arrears are what is critical because nobody so far has acknowledged having received the arrears and many people who are calling are complaining,” he said.

Government earlier paid K700 million to the teachers after Tum threatened to stage nationwide strike on October 18 2016.

Even though the invigilation allowances were settled, 59 teachers who were believed to have been ghost workers are not yet placed back on the payroll.

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