QUESTION OF THE DAY
In a press release dated 2 October 2018 the government has offered the following with the hope that such offer would lead the teachers to go back to the classroom:
Dated: 2nd October 2018
The Gambia Government Updated Press Release on Engagements with ‘Taskforce Teachers for Change (TFC)’ & Network of Mission Teachers
Sequel to our earlier press release on the on-going engagements with the Taskforce Teachers for Change (TFC) and the Network of Mission Teachers, the public is hereby informed that the TFC have been further engaged by other relevant Government Agencies at different levels all in a bid to amicably resolve the current stalemate.
Government is therefore delighted to announce that an understanding has been finally reached with the TFC to unconditionally end their sit-down strike and resume work effectively by Wednesday 3rd October 2018.
During the engagements the following agreements were arrived at:
- Increment of Salaries
It has been clearly understood that government cannot increase salaries on a piecemeal basis. Rather it must be across the board, affecting the entire Civil Service.
- Increment of Double Shift Allowance
Teaching on double shift is supposed to be on voluntary basis with the full consent of the teachers. Apparently, some head teachers assumed it is compulsory, resulting to undesirable situations in some schools.
Government would investigate the feasibility of increasing these allowances by between 60 to 70%, in the next budget, in consultation with the relevant authorities.
- Issuing of ID Cards to all Teachers
The public may wish to note that this in fact has been confirmed to have already been rolled out and distribution is currently on-going. MOBSE would however expedite the process for all teachers to be issued ID cards.
- Ending Delayed Payment Allowances
There is usually a one-off delay in the payment of double shift and hardship allowances at the beginning of the academic year due to the need to stabilise teachers following the national posting and further collect data on who are entitled to these allowances since not all teachers are entitled. The allowances are always back paid before the end of the first term with arrears.
Notwithstanding, MOBSE would endeavour avoid delays in the payment of these allowances in the future
- Teacher Trainees (TTs) Posted to Hardship Zones to benefit from Hardship Allowances
The public may wish to note that payment of hardship allowance is a policy measure to attract and retain qualified teachers in remote arears of the country in a bid to ensure equity. Therefore, only appointed qualified teachers are entitled. Thus, as a matter of policy, Teacher Trainees (TTs) are not supposed to be posted to designated hardship arears. It has therefore been agreed that TTs be moved from hardship arears and henceforth no TT would be posted to these places
- Payment of Provincial Allowances to commensurate with the transport allowances recently increased with drawback from January
The public may wish to be apprised that transport allowance was increased because of the introduction of the new Government Transport Policy, to facilitate the commuting of civil servants who were using government vehicles to work. It is by no means a welfare package. Those posted to the provinces generally do not commute to work and naturally should not have been affected by the increment in these allowances. However, Government was still considerate to increase the provincial/zonal allowance from 12.5 to 20% and 15 to 23% for the respective zones for those in the provinces effective July 2018.
Again notwithstanding, it was agreed during the engagement with the TFC that Government would investigate the feasibility of increasing these allowances in consultation with the relevant authorities in subsequent budgetary allocations.
- No Penalisation
It was agreed that nobody would be penalised for membership of the TFC or participating in the sit-down strike.
However, as civil servants, teachers should henceforth fully abide by the provisions of the General Orders, the Civil Service Code of Conduct, the Public Service Commission Regulations as well as the Basic and Secondary Education Act and any relevant regulations in force and they are expected to acquaint themselves with them as indicated in their letters of appointment.
- Channel of Communication
As earlier agreed, henceforth, all future correspondence on matters relating to teachers and the welfare of teachers should be channelled through The Gambia Teachers’ Union
- Press Release by TFC to Call off Strike
Finally, TFC would make a press release/conference to call off the sit-down strike as well as inform all teachers involved to go back to their places of posting and resume effective teaching.