The National, Monday March 3rd, 2014
I REFER to issues surrounding teachers’ leave fares, pay and other entitlements.
Teachers’ complaints about their annual recreational leave (ARL) fares have made headlines over the last two to three years, which led to the government tasking a parliamentary committee to conduct an inquiry.
The committee must be careful in establishing the terms of reference because the issues brought about by the teachers centre on how travel agencies handled their ARL fares.
Leave fares are not part of teachers’ (or other public servants’) salaries and these entitlements vary from province to province.
Also, not all teachers benefit from such entitlements as it only applies to public servants who work outside their province of origin.
The issue of travel agencies handling leave fares can be addressed by the respective sub-national education establishments.
A simple resolution to this issue – and I know many teachers affected will agree with me – is for travel agents and the respective provincial education establishment to give freedom to teachers to decide and select the agent that offers the lowest commission charges.
Teachers and other public servants must also understand that leave fare structures and threshold or the entitlement portfolio are not compulsory, inclusive of all and not part of salaries.
Instead, leave fares are airline ticketing funds made available to public servants working in provinces other than their home province to go home during the festive seasons.
Those who decide to forgo their travels and stay back to spend their holidays in their place of work, substituting their leave fares with cash are charged fees by agents in the form of commission.
So, we should be solving the issue of leave fares within our divisions.
Let public servants choose their travel agents instead of colluding between education establishments and agents because teachers’ pay inquiries or terms of reference cannot be blanketed as that may lead to other unforeseen issues.