By Nomalanga Moyo
Teachers will hold off on any industrial action against their employer until after Wednesday’s salary negotiations.
Schools open countrywide Tuesday and some teachers’ unions had indicated that members will go on strike on the same day to force government to honour its pledge to improve public sector wages and working conditions.
Last week Labour Minister Nicholas Goche told State media that representatives from government and civil servants will meet this Wednesday when government is expected make an offer.
“We have our position as Government and we will first reveal that position, what we have to offer and negotiate from there,” Goche said.
Takavafira Zhou, president of the 15,000-strong Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), said members had agreed to wait for Wednesday before they can decide on the next course of action.
“Wednesday is a couple of days away and if the government thinks the day will not arrive, it will and so we resolved to wait until then,” Zhou said.
“Teachers who visited our offices countrywide expressed displeasure that the government is negotiating in bad faith. The announcement that salaries will be backdated to January pre-empts Wednesday’s negotiations,” Zhou added.
The outspoken union leader said teachers were “dismayed” that while civil servants submitted their demands in October last year, government is still to make its own position known, despite negotiations ending Wednesday.
“We are also unhappy with the lack of a timeframe for these negotiations because this gives the government leeway to delay and be evasive without tying themselves to concrete negotiations.”
“Despite all this, we hope Wednesday will see the government making a concrete offer which reflects teachers’ and civil servants responsibilities, qualifications and experience,” Zhou added.
An unsatisfactory outcome from Wednesday’s meeting will be followed by urgent meetings throughout the country to map the way forward, according to Zhou.
“We are trying to avoid declaring a strike before Wednesday’s meeting because this could be seen as negotiating in bad faith,” Zhou said.
In another interview, PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe told the Daily News newspaper that in the event that civil servants stage protests. this must not be misunderstood as a political move.
“I want to assure you that we respect the government of the day that was voted in by the people and they must also recognise that workers are suffering and they must urgently address that.”
“If countries like Lesotho and Swaziland that are producing nothing are affording to pay their teachers up to $1, 000, why can’t Zimbabwe pay salaries of $540,” Majongwe told the newspaper on Sunday. SW Radio Africa