Teachers threaten labour dispute if arrears not paid by month-end

08Feb 2017
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Teachers threaten labour dispute if arrears not paid by month-end

THE Tanzania Teachers Union (TTU) has threatened to declare a labour dispute with the government from March 1 if teachers salary arrears are not paid by the end of this month.

Gratian Mukoba

“This should be considered as our last notice,” TTU president Gratian Mukoba told reporters in Dar es Salaam yesterday, although he added that public school teachers are ready to negotiate with their employer (the government) through TTU on how their arrears will be paid.

Mukoba was briefing media representatives on the resolutions reached at the union’s national council meeting held in Morogoro last month, in which the subject of how the government is dealing with teachers concerns including payments was high on the agenda.

Delegates to the meeting were informed that so far, 182,000 teachers have been paid a total of 124 billion/- from the 2013/14 financial year up to December 2016.

But according to Mukoba, what has been paid is just peanuts compared to the amount of money the government still owes teachers.

The TTU president said teachers have resolved to take stronger measures to press the government to clear the arrears since the amount they are claiming increases every day.

The teachers are concerned that that if the arrears are not cleared now, there is a distinct possibility that their employer will fail to clear them in the future, Mukoba pointed out.

He said the arrears included delayed salary increments to 80,000 teachers who were promoted between January and April 2016, but whose salaries have yet to be reviewed.

“We estimate that about 300 billion/- is needed to settle payment arrears for promoted teachers in the past fiscal year,” Mukoba said, adding that more teachers are also up for promotion in the next financial year starting July 1.

He explained that teachers’ arrears not related with salary increments and job promotions have reached 26.4bn/-.

“There are 6,044 retired teachers claiming over 480bn/-,” he noted, adding that TTU appreciates the ongoing search for ghost workers in the civil service since it is geared to improve the lot of bona fide public school teachers, among others.

He, however, called on the government not to use the ghost workers crackdown as an excuse for delaying teachers payment arrears.

When sought out for comment, the deputy permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training, Dr Leonard Akwilapo, told The Guardian it was the first time he was hearing of a looming labour dispute with the teachers.

“I am not aware (of the teachers’ threat) ... I am currently out of town and I will be in a position to respond to the matter when I return to my office later this week,” Dr Akwilapo said.

In May last year, the deputy minister in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government), Selemani Jaffo, expressed the government’s commitment to paying all public school teachers’ salary and non-salary arrears then amounting to about 67.3bn/-.

Jaffo told the National Assembly in Dodoma that by April 19 last year, non-salary arrears were at 17.5bn/- for primary and secondary school teachers, while salary arrears reached 49.8bn/-.

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