Malawi Teachers Launch Nationwide Strike Over Pay

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Empty class.
20 January 2020

Public primary and secondary school teachers have started an indefinite, nationwide walkout to force government to pay them their December 2019 salaries., especially those who were removed from the payroll for failure to submit their National IDs.

Teachers on strike to demand pay

Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) said about 5 000 teachers were removed from the payroll alongside other civil servants for not submitting details of their national identity cards, a development that led to them not getting paid their December salaries.

TUM secretary general Charles Kumchenga said they had difficulties to inform education authorities on the strike hence some schools the teachers did not put their tools down as others took to the streets.

"From today [Monday the 20th of January 2020] teachers and TTC lecturers will be gathering at their respective DCs [district commissioners] offices from 7am up to 4:30pm and this will be done up to the date they will get their salaries. In this case, they will not be delivering in schools and colleges," said Kumchenga.

TUM boasts the largest constituency of civil servants with a membership of about 37 000 in both public primary and secondary schools out of the estimated teacher population of 78 000.

Civil Society Education Coalition (Csec) executive director Benedicto Kondowe backed the teachers for the stand they have taken on the matter, saying the teachers were merely demanding what was due to them.

Kondowe accused the government of "not being sincere" with the teachers..

"Teachers submitted the IDs because we have also been consulting on the issue since TUM is our member. Therefore, we totally endorse the strike so that teachers must express their concerns," Kondowe said.

He said teachers will revert to work once they are all paid at once.

Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) Principal Secretary Justin Saidi said government is committed to work with TUM in addressing grievances of teachers.

Education activist Steve Sharra bemoaned that teachers continue to be subjected to such issues when education standards are on the decline.

The teachers were removed from the payroll, among thousands of other civil servants, following a decision to use the national identity card as the primary source of recognition in a move to flush out ghost workers from the system.

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