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MANZINI - In what could be termed as a direct response to the Minister of Education and Training, Lady Mabuza’s statement, SNAT has urged teachers to attend tomorrow’s petitions delivery in numbers.

In fact, the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) has accused senior officials at the Ministry of Education and Training of being too forward.
This was said in a press conference which was held at SNAT Centre yesterday afternoon, where the association was represented by the President, Mbongwa Dlamini, Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini and Organising Secretary Mlondi Dlamini.

The teachers’ union president said they had noted with concern that the Ministry of Education and Training was (allegedly) taking public sector association’s (PSAs) activities as if they only belonged to SNAT.

His argument was that every time when PSAs organised an activity, the ministry, either through Minister Mabuza or the Principal Secretary (PS) Bertram Stewart issued threats directed to teachers. He said petition delivery was a union activity and a right which was provided for in the Industrial Relations Act of 2000.

On that note, he said they would not negotiate for something which was their right.
“Maybe we were going to negotiate if the petition delivery is a privilege,” the president added.

He then warned the ministry against violating the rights of the union and its members. He said they were worried that in her statement, the minister said they should not host the petition delivery march during working hours. He said that was not practical because the offices where they would be delivering the petitions only operated during the working hours.

“However, if the minister wants us to deliver the petitions at their homes, we can do that,” the president said. Furthermore, the teachers’ union president said they were tired of being accused of having a political agenda by the ministry. He said the ministry should know that government made a political decision which refused them the cost of living adjustment (CoLA) they were demanding.

“When we respond to that political decision, we are then accused of having a political agenda,” he said.
He added that they had been always saying that if government wanted to be clear about their agenda, it should give the CoLA they were demanding and monitor if they would continue calling for a strike action. Again, the president said as teachers, they were also parents and they cared for the pupils since they were their children.

In a bid to substantiate that, he said when everything was normal, they worked even on school holidays and weekends.
However, he mentioned that in as much as children had a right to education, they could not sacrifice theirs, that of demanding the CoLA.
On another note, the president said the Ministry of Education and Training should distance itself from issues of CoLA because it falls under the Ministry of Public Service. He said the ministry should copy from the other government departments which do not comment on CoLA issues even when workers under them partook in a strike action.

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