Monday, June 25, 2007

Teachers threats

Teachers in the country have threatened to quit their union, Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) following the body’s decision to deduct its members one percent of their salaries as monthly contribution to the organisation.

The teachers have since formed a parallel committee—Concerned Teachers—to stop the union from carrying the deductions.

Secretary for the committee, Richard Jere said the committee would be calling for massive withdrawals of membership for the teachers because they do not benefit from the union.

“We have expressed our unhappiness over TUM’s proposal to deduct 1 percent from our salaries. We have written the Union expressing our reservations, they did not consult us,” he said.

Jere accused TUM secretariat of failing to represent the interests of teachers in the country and also failing to account for money the union has been collecting from teachers.

He also said TUM has no right to order for deductions from teachers’ salaries without the mandate of the teachers.

“The idea of deducting in percentage is very segregative because some members will be paying more than others,” he said.

Tchodola Phiri, a teacher at Thunga CDSS, Blessings Mathuwa, a teacher at Mikundi primary school and Mankhwala Phiri the head teacher at Nakabwe Primary school accused TUM of trying to rip off the teachers throughout the country.

In a letter to TUM, the teachers, who are members of Thyolo Concerned Teachers, accused TUM of lacking accountability.

“If they proceed to deduct from our salaries, we are going to seek legal intervention,” Tchodola Phiri said.

Members of TUM have been contributing K30 per month as membership fee. But TUM secretary general Denis Kalekeni said because of escalating costs of operations the Union decided to start deducting one percent from each member’s salary.

Kalekeni said the decision of deducting in percentage was in conformity with the Sadc region.

Kalekeni also said the union intends to talk to all teachers in the country to join the union because, it felt, when it fights for benefits for teachers, all of them benefit regardless of whether or not they are members.

Kalekeni said the union consulted teachers throughout the country.

TUM has about 35,000 members and least paid teachers earn about K7, 000 per month. The Union collects over K1 million a month from teachers. The proposed deductions will increase the union’s purse to about K3 million.

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