Teachers set to go on a strike

Lesotho Association of Teachers spokesperson, Letsatsi Ntsibolane.

Friday, 15 February 2019

The Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT) has announced its plans to embark on a massive strike next week.

The ongoing strike, aimed at forcing the government to address the teachers’ demands for salary increments and improved working conditions, is set to begin on Monday. The strike continuation comes after the government and the teachers’ unions were involved in endless disagreements for a number of weeks recently.

LAT spokesperson, Letsatsi Ntsibolane, who is currently challenging his dismissal in court for leading the strike, told The Post that the Ministry of Education did not avail themselves for negotiations with one of the unions, Lesotho Teachers Trade Union (LTTU).

“They sent their lawyer to perform the minister and principal secretary’s roles,” said Ntsibolane, adding that the lawyers were not fully aware of all the issues that needed to be discussed which made it seem like they were not properly briefed about the meeting.

Ntsibolane said the LTTU’s conciliation was set to begin this Friday while they were going for the strike on Monday. The LTTU Secretary General ’Mapitso Molai told The Post that their aim was to combine the union’s grievances but the Ministry separated them from the LAT.

“We will not be intimidated. We are not scared because we know what we are fighting for is within the law,” Molai argued.

The LTTS’s grievances include a salary increase, salary and career structure review, repeal of teaching service regulations, the hiring of principals on permanent and pensionable contract, the new curriculum, teaching books and learning materials dissemination in schools and electronic filing system.

Education International, a worldwide association of teachers, has urged the government to abide by its national and international obligations to respect the right to freedom of association and to collective bargaining of Lesotho teachers as guaranteed by the Lesotho Labor Code and the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions.

In a letter, the association’s Secretary General, David Edwards, urged the Minister of Education and Training to withdraw the Ntsibolane’s letter of dismissal and to meet the legitimate demands of teachers’ betterment of their working conditions and for salaries that are commensurate with professional qualifications, without further delays.