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Teachers threaten nationwide strike

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Close to 40,000 teachers in the country through their body, the Teachers Union of Malawi (Tum), have threatened to stage a sit-in if government fails to resolve their grievances by May 9 this year.

In a statement dated March 14 and addressed to the Secretary for Education, Science and Technology, the Union also accuses the ministry of failing to resolve teachers’ grievances which were submitted through the office of the chief director responsible for primary and secondary education.

“We write to bring to your attention that all teachers in both primary and secondary schools in the public service shall hold an industrial action in form of a sit-in from Monday 9th May 2016 due to your personal as well as ministry’s inability to resolve teachers’ grievances which were given to you,” reads part of the statement.

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The letter calls for salary adjustments for teachers who were promoted in the year 2013 to grade TJ who up to now are yet to start receiving new salaries; immediate adjustment of salaries for all teachers promoted in 2013 to grade TK (PT3) whose letters of promotion were already issued; payment of leave grant for the fiscal year 2015/16 to all secondary school teachers; payment of salary arrears as and reversing the unlawful interdictions of teachers by Lilongwe Rural West’s District Education Manager among other demands.

In the statement TUM has also criticised government for failing to provide transport for teachers it transferred to various areas and districts after promoting them only to backtrack after their failure to report to the new work stations.

It states that the teachers, some of whom had been transferred all the way from Blantyre Urban to Mzimba south, Chikwawa to Nkhotakota and Mzuzu to Mzimba south had to ferry themselves to their newly designated places.

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“To expect these teachers to transport themselves is totally inhuman and unacceptable by all teachers. We, therefore, demand that the teachers be provided with transport and awarded their hard earned promotion or be promoted in their initial schools as you (government) grapple with logistics,” reads the statement which has been signed by TUM president Chauluka Muwake, Secretary General Denis Kalekeni and Treasurer General Island Mtambo.

It has also demanded that Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Emmanuel Fabiano, retract his statement to the effect that government had withdrawn the promotions due to failure by the teachers to report to their new duty stations.

“So far no action has been taken from your side to rectify the problem despite the teachers meeting your requirements of submitting their bank statements. TUM, therefore, demands that the teachers be paid their salaries immediately,” The statement reads.

Meanwhile, Fabiano confirmed receipt of the letter.

“I have seen the letter and we, as government, are discussing with the teachers to map the way forward. Until then I cannot comment further,” Fabiano said.

The union has declared in its statement that the country wide strike will be called off only after all its six grievances have been fully met.

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