By Faith Kadzanja & By Patience Lunda:
Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum) has warned all headteachers that are forcing teachers to continue teaching while their fellow teachers are on strike.
About 5,000 teachers from primary, secondary schools and training colleges did not receive their December salaries because the government claims they did not submit their national identification cards to relevant authorities.
Tum Secretary General, Charles Kumchenga, said the union had learnt with great shock that some headteachers are forcing their teachers to continue working.
“Tum is going to demonstrate against those headteachers that are adamant and not willing to let teachers exercise their right to demonstrate,” he said.
The teachers started their sit-in on Monday and according to Kumchenga, the government has not yet paid the teachers prompting the strike to continue.
“There are some headteachers who are forcing the teachers to be working while their friends are demonstrating, so we are calling upon all the headteachers to stop that behaviour. Up to now, the government has not paid the teachers, so why should one force them to work,” he said.
Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) joined the strike in Lilongwe Tuesday.
MCTU Secretary General, Dennis Kalekeni, said what the teachers are demanding is reasonable.
“While we are complaining that learners are not in class, what the teachers are demanding is very fundamental and requires our solidarity and support. The Labour Relations Act stipulates that a worker shall be given a decent work environment and in this case, the government has failed to do that,” he said.
Ministry of Education, Science and Technology spokesperson, Lindiwe Chide, insisted that the teachers will be paid their salaries by Tuesday.
In Mzuzu, day two of the teachers’ strike started with protests by learners drawn from most primary schools in the city.
Eventually, some teachers, clad in black and red, gathered at the Education Division Office joined the protests.
Tum Treasury General, Ernest Chirwa, said what they want is that by today the government should sort out the issue.
“If this issue is not sorted out by Wednesday [today], we will engage an extra gear, flood the whole city with learners to help us teachers and have our voices heard,” he said.
After making rounds in the city, the teachers and learners camped at the office of the District Education Manager in Mzuzu City.