Striking teachers receive termination threat from VP Darboe

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EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, THE GAMBIA: In a communication shared by Teachers for Change task force to its members following their Tuesday and yesterday Wednesday meeting with Gambia’s vice president which was also obtained by Eye Africa TV, it was indicated that both members of the Teachers for Change (TFC) taskforce and Network of Mission Teachers (NMT) have received words of threat to terminate their services if they refuse to go to work.

“All those who are involved in the sit-down strike will be victimized if they refuse to report to school by the 28th September, 2018. We will use the law. We have plans to replace you with retired teachers and we will not allow a parallel union to the GTU,” vice president Ousainou Darboe was quoted as saying in the TFC communication.

He said he was disappointed by the country’s teachers who refused to go back to school to teach in protest for a change in the education sector.

Task Force committee of a group of teachers who call themselves Teachers for Change and Network of Mission Teachers Tuesday met Vice president Darboe at his office at State House where they discussed the matter.

Teachers for Change have been on sit down strike demanding for the full and timely payment of their provincial and hardship allowances. They also demand for fora change in the country’s education sector. “When Mr. Darboe asked us what kind of change we actually wanted, we told him that it is a positive change where teachers will be comfortable at the work places so as to ensure them to deliver effectively and efficiently.”

Assistant secretary General of TFC taskforce Ebrima D. York said, “I know you as someone who have been advocating for change all your life. So, I will be very happy to state the change we want. We want a friendly teaching and learning environment. We want to see that teachers are well represented and their welfare is upheld.”

Mr. York explained some of the challenges of teachers, saying “it is because of the challenges faced by teachers that we find it easy to mobilize all teachers.”

Vice president Darboe expressed dissatisfaction with both the taskforce committees for refusing to end the sit-down strike. “After our meeting, I saw what you wrote on social media that your position remains the same. I am disappointed with the step you took” he said.

He emphasized that all those involved in the sit-down strike will be terminated from the teaching profession if they fail to be in school by the 28th of September 2018. “We have monitors going around and we will terminate your services if you are not found at your school. The choice is yours so you decide” he said.

Abdoulie Jallow, secretary general said their means of communication as a group is through social media (WhatsApp) and that was the platform they used to write to their groups to tell members what happened.
“To be sincere with everyone here, I was expecting solutions to our demands and not threats” he said.

But vice president Darboe said the strike is unjustifiable because the agreements in the resolution expires in October. “Can you strike for something that should be done in October, let’s be realistic.”

Johnson Mendy, Secretary General of mission teachers expressed dissatisfaction with some of the challenges face by teachers especially mission teachers.

An official unknown to the taskforce (possibly a permanent secretary) also said, “ Government teachers are directly under the public service so we can terminate them but mission teachers are under the catholic mission service so its left to the catholic mission to decide what to do” he explained.

Antony Mendy of the mission teachers said he thought their demands will be met but the threats given to them were discouraging but VP Darboe insisted that his words were no threat but only telling them what they, as a government planned to do. “You threatened to go on strike and you did. If you are terminated then you can take us to court” he said.

He assured TFC taskforce that the plans laid will be implemented. “In Jammeh’s time you dare not do this. We did it as lawyers.”

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