BY Brenna Matendere
A RECORD nine teachers’ unions have endorsed the decision go on strike to press for better wages starting next week when schools reopen for examination classes.
In a joint statement, the Teachers Unions in Zimbabwe which brings together the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Teachers Association, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe and six others, the educators said the economy had dollarised and so should their salaries.
Part of the statement read: “Perturbed that government has totally ignored the welfare of teachers as evidenced by salaries that were received by teachers in September, aware that the total consumption poverty line for a family of five is now above $17 244 as given by ZimStat, surprised by the continued salary discrepancies between teachers and the other civil servants, especially the uniformed forces,”
“We, the undersigned Teacher Unions in Zimbabwe, now, therefore, urge the government to:
“Urgently expedite consultations with all teachers’ unions with a view to sharing ideas on the way forward before the opening of schools. This is informed by the fact that teachers’ unions are a key stakeholder in the education sector and represent the very people who are implementers of government policies; restore the purchasing power parity of teachers’ salaries pegged at US$500 to US$550.”
The teachers also demanded education sector-specific allowances that are commensurate with their responsibilities and status and a COVID-19 allowance that is a product of negotiations or agreement between employer and employees.
“If schools reopen during this COVID-19 period, it entails that teachers will be frontline workers who deserve a meaningful COVID-19 allowance.”
The statement further read: “Indeed, there is nothing as dangerous as having under-paid, undernourished, under-resourced and demotivated teachers in the classrooms because teachers are in essence role models of their communities and society and help to shape the future of individuals, society and the country. It is only well-paid, healthy, motivated, innovative and dynamic teachers that can fulfil this vital cog of sustainable development.”
The development is set to put the teachers on a collision course with government which has reiterated that schools will open without fail.