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Striking lecturers to receive full payment package, claims MEST PRO

June 27, 2016 By Memunatu Bangura

Public Relations Officer at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) disclosed last Friday that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development had endorsed demands by striking lecturers of Polytechnics and Teacher Training Colleges and that payment would be made in the first week of July, 2016.

Lecturers in polytechnics and teacher training colleges last week began a nationwide sit-down strike over delay in the payment of their salaries and poor conditions of service. The lecturers claimed that they had gone for two consecutive months without receiving salaries. They are also aggrieved over ‘unnecessary’ delay in the implementation of the 2016 to 2018 conditions of service for senior support staff of polytechnics and teacher training colleges in Sierra Leone.

Speaking at the weekly government press briefing on Thursday at the Ministry of Information and Communications Conference room, Brima Micheal Turay said his ministry was not responsible to pay salaries of lecturers, but rather facilitate the process and ensure tertiary institutions receive their subventions.

“MEST does not pay salaries. We only negotiate for the money which the head of institutions use to pay lecturers since they are the ones that negotiate salaries with lecturers. We do not participate in that process and we do not set the terms of agreement as to how they were recruited into the institutions. We only facilitate the provision of the resource to run the institutions and the heads decide on what to pay to which lecturer,” he told the presser.

He explained that in April this year the aggrieved lecturers presented a position paper demanding a new condition of service, with 50% increment in their salaries.

He said the request was made after the national budget had already been tabled in Parliament, thus putting government in a difficult position to factor that into the 2016 expenditure.

“If it was just their basic salary, the Ministry of Finance could have paid that but they were asking for the full package that comprises the 50% increment, which amounted to twenty billion Leones,” he said.

He said government would have paid the lecturers their salaries prior to the strike action, had it not been for the difficult demand they made, which he said put government in a difficult position.

Turay said  government was proactive in handling issues related to education, adding that government loathe the strike action to continue and has thus decided to provide the pay package to the aggrieved lecturers.

He added that just before the strike action commenced, MEST had requested that the lecturers give them up to 20July, adding that they were disappointed to have heard about the commencement of the strike after agreeing on a timeline.

He said a meeting had been slated for Wednesday, 22 June to share with them information relating to the approval of their demands by the Ministry of Finance, but that none of leaders of the strike action showed up.

It remains to be known though whether the strike lecturers will return to the classroom prior to payment of their backlog salaries this week.

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