Teachers threaten strike over pay

Just days after the nurses’ strike ended, educators in Zimbabwe are threatening to put up their own fight as soon as schools open if government does not give them a pay rise and a review of rural-based educators’ allowances.

Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe general-secretary, Raymond Majongwe
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe general-secretary, Raymond Majongwe

This comes after government fired striking nurses over a mass walkout over poor working conditions and pay saying the industrial action was “politicised”.

Progressive Teachers’ Union (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe told the Daily News yesterday that the newly-formed Federation of Zimbabwe Educators’ Unions (Fozeu) had decided to put government on notice of the impending strike.

“As the PTUZ, we are encouraging all our structures to follow developments closely. We should be sending our Fozeu strike notice in the next 48 hours,” Majongwe said, calling on all workers to attend next week’s May Day Celebrations under the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) banner to make a bold statement on labour force unity and solidarity.

“We spoke to the ZCTU secretary-general, Japhet Moyo who also intimated that they were also formally writing to us and inviting us.

“We are elated as this is the time to put our differences aside and put the welfare of the workers as a priority because this government has proved that they have no plan for the workers at all.

“Their militaristic response given to the nurses’ strike is a lesson for all of us as we are clearly being shown that our concerns and welfare mean nothing to them. An injury to one is an injury to all; therefore, we must unite lest we perish.

“The teachers are next in line; they have silently threatened us already. They have shown us they are merciless and brutal,” he said.

In a PTUZ statement ahead of the celebrations next week, Majongwe slammed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government for being insincere about collective bargaining.

He said teachers were not happy with Mnangagwa’s call to open the country for business while ignoring workers’ plight.

“They now want to allow collective bargaining that they dismissed the striking nurses for.

“What kind of mischief is this? This is surely some sick joke. We can clearly read this script and template.  There is nothing for us without us” he charged.

Notwithstanding the fact that PTUZ is no longer an affiliate of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Majongwe called on Fozeu and all teachers to join the labour mother body in this year’s May Day celebrations.

“We  will ask our fellow comrades at Fozeu to join us at these commemorations on 1 May, not to celebrate, but to let them know  we can see through their plastic smiles.

“We must unite as one big family of workers and defend our turf. Clearly, we are under attack by this new government,” Majongwe said.

At least six teachers’ unions have united under Fozeu — breaking away from the Apex Council which they accuse of being an appendage of government.

The  other unions under Fozeu include the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’  Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), the Zimbabwe National
Teachers Union (Zinatu), the Zimbabwe Democratic Teachers’ Union (ZDTU) and the Professional Educators’ Union of Zimbabwe (PEUZ).

The teachers are demanding, among other things, leave reinstatement considering that the matter had its judgment reserved for a period in excess of 180 days since the date of reservation and had been unilaterally withdrawn.

On countryside-based service allowance, the educators said considering the hardships that rural teachers face and the comparative unfairness where senior officers in government are paid much more for a single night in the bush yet educators receive less than $15 for a month’s stint in rural areas, government must act.

The demand for leave reinstatement comes after government made a decision in 2016 to withdraw vacation leave for teachers, as part of austerity measures by the State.
The country’s teachers  earn around $400 per month, which ranks them among the lowest paid civil servants in the country.

The remuneration is well below the monthly consumer basket of about $540 for a five-member family, according to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe.

The teachers argue their salaries were last reviewed in 2013. Daily News