Negotiations between Ministry of Education and Skills Development and teacher unions hit a brick wall on Wednesday as Botswana Teachers Union(BTU) pulled out the negotiations.
The negotiations came to a standstill after Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) said a job evaluation assessment is required in relation to Primary School Senior teachers before a decision can be made whether or not to extent LOO to them.
BTU argued that it was never the intention and purpose of LOO that entitlement will be based on job evaluation assessment.
In a letter written to DPSM, BTU Secretary General Ibo Kenosi said that the addition of job evaluation assessment is unlawful and irregular and that they will not accept it and will not participate in the negotiations.
“Botswana Teachers Union is recalling any and all of its members who had formed part of the task force that was to carry out the job evaluation assessment on Primary School Senior Teachers,” said Kenosi, adding that BTU will take no further part in the job evaluation assessment exercise.
BTU urged DPSM to consider the extension of LOO to Primary School Senior Teachers only on the basis of the Joint Position Paper and no other requirement. In an interview, BTU Secretary General said that they were shocked by the inclusion of job evaluation assessment when it came to Primary School Senior Teachers while it was not required for Secondary School Teachers. DPSM is said to be arguing that they cannot not just promote senior teacher grade 1 to D4 without any assessment as there are many primary school teachers within the category.
BTU on the other hand deposit in a letter to DPSM Director Ruth Maphorisa that it was never the intention and purpose of LOO that entitlement will be based on job evaluation assessment. “The requirement for a job evaluation assessment is an additional requirement that was never part of the original content of the LOO scheme,” argued BTU through their Secretary General Ibo Kenosi.
BTU argues that the implementation of LOO by Ministry of Education and Skills Development in 2013 was discriminating to primary school teachers against the whole public service and against their colleagues at secondary school level. Botswana’s oldest teacher union states in the letter that they have recalled their task force team and will take no further part in the job evaluation assessment exercise. BTU maintains that they can only take part in the negotiations if DPSM considers the extension of LOO to Primary School Senior Teachers only on the basis of the Joint Position Paper and no other requirement. “The union reserves all of its rights in relation to this matter, and will take further advice and action on it should your office persist with the job evaluation assessment,” cautions BTU.
In an interview with The Patriot on Sunday BTU Secretary General Kenosi said that they were shocked when DPSM brough about the job evaluation assessment issue. Kenosi said this is an insult to primary school teachers because we have never heard of job evaluation assessment on any other public service worker and we wonder why primary school teachers. “This phenomenon is not only discriminatory to Primary School teachers against the whole of the public service, but it also discriminate them against each other within the wider education sector,” hit out BTU secretary General.
He said the inclusion of job assessment when it comes to primary school teachers is against fundamentals of LOO which is aimed at promoting social labour justice by recognizing the need to level the paying structure of a more or less homogenous value chain job, so that no cadre is disadvantaged. Asked if they have received support from their fellow teacher unions, BOSETU, Kenosi said that he cannot comment on the issue as their primary concern now is to ensure that the offensive clause is removed. He said that the issue will be discussed at their sectorial conferences which is being held in Francistown and commenced on Friday.
To advance their position BTU has come up with a blue print document titled “Position Paper on the implications of Levels of Operations at Primary School Level with special preference to senior teacher grade 1in Botswana” which was published early this month. BOSETU Secretary General Tobokani Rari said that they have not been formally informed if BTU has withdrawn from the negotiations.
He confirmed that BOSETU is still part of the negotiations and that they hope a final decision will be made by next week. Giving a background of the issue, Rari said that the job evaluation assessment issue came up after negotiators from government requested that it should be introduced to determine who is promoted from C1 to D4 paying scale. “There are some senior teachers with responsibility who are supposed to be moved to D4 so as they don’t crowd with those without responsibility,” said Rari.
The issue of LOO has in the past divided the two teacher unions with BTU members who are mostly primary school teachers feeling that BOSETU which was by then for secondary teachers only was not supporting them.
He rebutted allegations that the issue might divide the two teacher unions epmhasising that this is are just negotiations.