I said it in one of my previous articles that the issue of teachers’ industrial action for Covid-19 risk allowances ought to be solved intelligently. I spoke prophetically, but what I was foretelling is something which was clearly there for everyone to see for themselves. The only wonder was why the leadership was not able to see it as did easily as some of us.
The first phase of Teachers Union of Malawi’s – TUM industrial action ended when the government promised that it would pay them the Covid-19 risk allowances in a once off mode. Teachers smiled and went back to school to teach our learners. Little did they know that they were only being hoodwinked by their employer!
On noting that government was only trying to play hide and go seek, TUM issued it a seven day notice prior to the resumption of the second wave of the industrial action. In other words, TUM was giving the government an opportunity within those seven days for contact and dialogue . But did we see any response from government within that time period? No!
Then, the ultimatum elapsed and the stay away resumed; almost a week later, the government now comes up with negotiating team to face TUM and the Civil Service Trade Union to solve the impulse. Like seriously? Where has the government been all these day? Why was the negotiation not held during the seven day ultimatum period?
This is how the government lacks seriousness and it is also how it proves to be as naive on pertinent issues as the previous regime! Waiting for the lighting to cast and then starting to seek shelter! What a desperate solution! Enough proof that only the elements of the system changed but the system itself remains the same old.
After noticing that the teachers representatives have tightly stuck to their guns, government resorts to seeking a court injunction and halting of teachers’ monthly contribution of K500 to the TUM’s pocket. The whole idea, now, is to frustrate the stand teachers have decisively taken.
Unfortunately, this impulse comes neck to neck with the results of Malawi School Certificate of Education – MSCE examinations which are described as the worst in decades by the Minister of Education, Agnes NyaLonje, herself. This, now, means that one of the factors that will negatively affect the next MSCE examinations results is here clear for everyone to see.
However, the issue of teachers Covid-19 risk allowances has been outstanding for almost two months and yet it does not need rocket science for it to be dealt with once and for all.
The government, mother employer as it is and a devout follower of all laws; including labour laws, knows what lasting solution to be employed in this situation to bring sanity to the teaching and learning process in the country once and for all, but it is deliberately handling the whole situation with kid’s gloves; expecting the solution to come by itself. That is utterly impossible!
No solution to a challenge come on its own without being sought! And a stitch in time saves nine!