Govt. to face more teacher victories
The celebrated High Court victory of teacher unions on Friday might just be the beginning of a bigger problem for the Botswana government.
The victory was only on the issue of Levels of Operation (LOO) for primary school teachers, but the ministry of education might yet be left with an egg on the face when the teacher unions again triumph on other pending issues. Botswana Teachers Union (BTU) and Botswana Sector of Educators Trade Union (BOSETU) are relentless in their fight against government’s stubborn stance on leveling the field on welfare and labour issues relating to teachers.
In addition to the LOO matter, the unions have also lodged a case in which they see as an unfair discriminatory practice, the absence of a progression path for teachers offering Physical Education, Moral Education, French and Music.
Because the subjects have for over a decade been offered on a pilot basis, the ministry did not create posts of responsibility for the subject teachers, something that has left the said teachers disgruntled as they could not benefit from annual promotions. Reports suggest that while in some secondary schools there are teachers being recognised as heads for these subjects, there are a lot of cases where the ministry has ignored the need to create the Senior Teacher I posts.
The unions have also challenged the decision not to grant Home Economics, Business and Accounting subject teachers the benefit of the scarce skills allowance despite meeting the requisite criteria to be classified as such. Such are the cases that may soon surface as well just as the ministry will be trying to comply with the Friday court ruling.
Primary school teachers in senior positions had a reason to be on cloud nine after the Friday High Court ruling practically declared them equals of their counterparts at junior and senior secondary schools. Under the old dispensation, senior teachers with responsibility at primary schools earned lesser than their counterparts at secondary schools, something which teacher unions deemed unfair and have been challenging for years.
Even the progression of teachers was dependent on whether one was at primary, junior secondary or senior secondary school, such that when teachers started service, entry point was C4 for diploma holders and C3 for degree holders. Yet primary school teachers could only progress up to C2, which saw them remain at lower paying scales compared to their counterparts at junior and senior secondary schools. A Senior Teacher 1 at primary school earned at C2 while the same position at secondary school paid at D4.
With the court victory, primary school senior teachers, Heads of Department, Deputy School Heads and School Heads will each have to be paid an extra P2000, and given that they will be paid in arrears from July 2013, an individual teacher is set to make up to P96 000 in back pays. That will see government cough up to P384 million to pay back the about 4000 teachers affected by this ruling.
The mood is thus buoyant in the primary schools around the country with many already making enquiries on when the court ruling will be implemented. BTU President Johannes Tshukudu confirmed to The Midweek Sun in an interview that they have been receiving inquiries on the matter since Friday. “For now we can’t give answers because we are awaiting government’s response.
In case they decide to appeal, the matter might drag on longer; if they don’t appeal, we expect them to tell us within the next 14 days how they are going to start the payment process,” Tshukudu said, adding that teachers should realise that where there is unity, there is always a way, no matter how long the road might be.