12 February 2010

School cook takes home E500 after "firewood" deduction

Makhungutsha cook gets ‘raw’ deal

Njabulo Dlamini, Swazi Observer, 12 February 2010

A cook at Makhungutsha Primary School in the Manzini Region is being paid E300 less every month for ‘firewood collection’ as she cannot go into the forest.

She ends up taking home E500 after the firewood collection deduction of E300.

In terms of the gazette, school cooks ought to be paid E925 per month.

The Swaziland Schools Institutions and Allied Workers (SSIAWU) has had the anomaly brought to the attention of the principal.

They have further requested a meeting to deliberate on the issue, confirmed Phumelele Zulu, SSIAWU President.

Both the ministry of education and training as well as principals association have expressed shock at the issue, noting it was unheard of.

“We used to provide our cook with firewood at the school’s expense and now that we are using electricity to do the cooking. This is provided for in our accounts. The bills for electricity towards cooking students’ food are not deducted from the cook’s salary.

Strange case

“This is rather a strange case but one cannot interrogate it further lest it tampers with agreements between the school committee and the individual concerned. It could be best if she could take it up with the school committee,” Charles Bennett, Swaziland Principals Association (SWAPA) President said. Zulu said there were several anomalies in schools that they had picked up as a Union and would not rest until these were addressed.

“Some schools do not effect statutory deductions such as the Swaziland National Provident Fund (SNPF) contribution from support staff and during school holidays some of our members are not paid on the excuse that they are not working.

“This is despite that principals and generally teachers are paid each month even during school holidays”.

Principal Secretary, Pat Muir expressed surprise at the issue adding it was erroneous of the principal to effect such deductions on a cooker’s salary.

“Such decisions are taken by the school committee and I don’t believe the principal alone could effect such without due mandate. I would advise that she takes it up with the school committee through the chairperson for it to be deliberated by the whole committee as it involves funds,” he said.

Asked about the kind of support the ministry could render in such instances, he said the individual should approach the Regional Education Officer (REO) who could advise accordingly.