BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
GOVERNMENT has courted the ire of teachers after it reportedly deducted huge amounts from salaries of educators who went on strike when schools reopened last year.
NewsDay understands that some teachers got as little as $2 after the deductions.
The development has triggered anger among teachers, who are now planning a full-blown strike in protest over the deductions, which they said were in violation of the Constitution and labour laws.
Public Service minister Paul Mavima only said: “The issue of the deducted funds is purely an administrative issue. I deal with policy issues, so the Public Service Commission (PSC) is better placed to respond to your questions.”
Government last year announced that it was adopting the no-work no-pay policy after teachers went on strike to demand pre-2018 United States dollar salaries or its equivalent at the interbank rate.
Thousands of teachers were also suspended.
Efforts to get a comment from PSC secretary Jonathan Wutawashe were in vain as he was not taking calls.
Unions, however, accused government of victimising the educators for exercising their constitutional right to engage in job action demanding better salaries and improved working conditions.
Government has failed to provide payslips to civil servants for the past two months to enable them to see what has been deducted and why.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said the teachers would challenge the no-work no-pay policy.
“We are not aware of the modalities that were used by the government as it deducted different funds on the teachers who were on strike during the same day,” he said.
“Government deducted up to $20 000 from the teachers’ salaries. I know of a teacher in Warren Park who got $2 as his salary. The issue will not go unchallenged. We are in the process of filing a paper against the act.”
Zimbabwe National Teachers Union chief executive Manuel Nyawo said: “What pains us most is that the deductions came as a shock and have left us poorer than before. We have written to seek clarification from the employer on why that move was taken outside our members’ knowledge. We are very bitter with the employer and we hope this is the first and last time we experience this worrisome and most painful development.”
The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) also said it would “continue making noise” until government respected the teachers’ rights.
“We are very much alive to the concerns that have been raised by our members who did not get their salaries this month without any explanation from the employer,” Zimta secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said.
“As Zimta, we will not fold hands and watch. It is worrisome that in this case, PSC failed to follow the due process in charging members who it accused of misconduct.”
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said: “We can’t afford to have another disruption from a job action after all those disruptions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The issues should be resolved amicably. The ministry does not encourage strikes to resolve the teachers’ concerns. The education system should thrive and it only thrives when children are learning in schools.
“The teachers have their representatives who can sit down with government and talk about their grievances. There is a need for collaborative efforts to ensure that learners recover all the learning time lost during lockdowns.”