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State Appeals Judgement Granting All Senior Teachers LOO Benefits

GOITSEMODIMO KAELO
Government lawyers in the Stateís appeal against High Courtís decision declaring all primary school senior teachers should benefit from the Levels of Operation (LOO) policy, say there was no promise to elevate the teachers without precondition of a job evaluation assessment.

The State has appealed judgement of Justice Godfrey Ntlhomiwa of the Lobatse High Court, which granted the primary school teachers their wishes. He had ruled that the primary schools’ senior teachers with responsibilities must have benefited from the policy and that the teachers be compensated accordingly and retrospectively, from the date of the implementation of the LOO policy in July 2013.

Ntlhomiwa had said that the implementation of the LOO policy, especially at primary schools was unfair on senior teachers with responsibilities. The implementation of the policy in 2013 had lumped the senior teachers with responsibilities at the same scale as their juniors at C1, whereas their counterparts at secondary schools had been remunerated at D4 salary scale.

Attorney Matlhogonolo Phuthego on Friday told the Court of Appeal (CoA) bench that the idea of the LOO policy was to put primary school senior teachers with responsibilities at par with those at junior secondary schools. But, he said, the teachers would be subjected to a performance evaluation exercise.

Phuthego argued that there was never any agreement between the appellants and the respondents that LOO would be applied uniformly between teachers at primary and secondary schools. “Their contention is based on the issue of legitimate expectation which does not arise in this case,” Phuthego said.

He said Justice Ntlhomiwa misdirected himself by imposing a pay structure, which is the responsibility of the Director of the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM).

“The law is not supposed

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to usurp the power of an administrative authority or the Director of DPSM. The court misdirected itself,” he added.

Although Phuthego admitted that there was an agreement reached between the (then) Ministry of Education and Skills Development and the trade unions on the review of implementation of LOO, a Joint Position Paper was never prepared and jointly agreed upon.

However, attorney Joseph Akoonyatse representing the trade unions insisted that there was a joint position paper drafted by both parties, which the government later abandoned with intention to include a precondition of an evaluation exercise. He said the trade unions did not agree to the pre-condition because it was never an issue with senior teachers.

“There was never a precondition when senior teachers at junior schools were elevated automatically to D4 scale,” he said. He argued that the issue was not a question of an agreement between the parties, but a directive of the Cabinet. Akoonyatse further argued that the decision to subject senior teachers at primary schools to a job evaluation assessment was irregular, unreasonable, unjust and unlawful.

He maintained that his clients had legitimate expectation that senior teachers at primary school level will be treated equally and in similar manner as their counterparts at secondary schools. He submitted that as such, primary school senior teachers compensation should be backdated to October 2013. About 3,000 teachers at primary schools are estimated to hold the positions of senior teachers with responsibilities.



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