BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government has bowed to pressure and agreed to consider another adjustment on civil servants’ salaries after teachers threatened a full-blown strike last week as their employer moved to effect a no-work-no-salary policy.
Last Thursday, Public Service minister Paul Mavima confirmed the development in Senate, saying government was considering another “slight adjustment” to the “staggered 70%” wage offer tabled last month, which civil servants have rejected.
He, however, insisted that the salaries would be in local currency as government had no capacity to pay United States dollar-indexed salaries.
“With regard to salaries, government is working out to ensure that workers are motivated properly, but the workers should also appreciate efforts that are being made by government. According to our revenue at the moment, it is not possible for us to go beyond what we have already offered,” Mavima said.
“We may actually adjust or increase, but not with a big percentage because we stand guided by the Finance ministry. I know that there is a problem that some teachers report for duty, but do not teach and children are being denied the education they deserve.
“The government team went back to the negotiating table so that our offer may be reconsidered, hence Treasury and Public Service Commission technical people are meeting to see how they can increase the offer to the civil servants. We are saying that since government has opened the negotiation forum, may civil servants, especially teachers go back to work while negotiations go on,” he said.
Last November, Mavima accused civil servants of making outrages demands.
Teachers, who make up the bulk of civil servants, are demanding between US$520 and US$550 or their equivalent in the local currency.
Teachers are currently earning between $17 000 and $22 000, which they say is below the poverty datum line.
In March, government agreed to adjust its workers’ salaries, offering a 70% staggered adjustment, which saw civil servants this month getting 25% of the offer.
Their unions told NewsDay yesterday that they had lost faith in the negotiations.
“We have negotiated enough and nobody seems to care. We are being considered as workers who do not deserve attention as if to mean we are a nuisance. The best we can say is that we are condemned employees. We have been neglected like mercenary prisoners of war and the only solution before us is to show that we are human beings worth surviving, like the members of Parliament who are demanding more than $72 000. We need to rise up and be counted,” Zimbabwe National Teachers Union chief executive Manuel Nyawo said.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said: “This is no time for rhetoric and empty promises, but a time for realism and pragmatic action that can restore meaningful learning and teaching in schools. Our plea is that government must invest in quality public education and the payment of a living wage to teachers must be high on the government agenda, moreso in light of Agenda 2030 aimed at revolutionising education through life-serving skills revolution. Well-paid teachers in safe schools are a must for quality public education.”
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) claimed government of using terror tactics to force teachers back to class.
Artuz claimed that its members in Zaka, Masvingo province, had been assaulted by parents on the incitement of some ruling Zanu PF party members.
“We are gathering that a school head and his deputy at Mapanje Primary School in Zaka have been attacked by parents. We are also advised that the ruling party has launched a campaign to incite parents against teachers. Our schools must be safe,” Artuz said on its Twitter handle yesterday.
But Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo yesterday dismissed the reports, adding that if it were true, then the union should report the perpetrators to the police.
“Why Should Zanu PF involve itself in school affairs? Those who claim they have been assaulted should report the matter to the police. But that is not how we behave in Zanu PF,”Moyo said.
PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said victimisation of teachers by politicians was not a new phenomenon.
“Teachers have been victimised for ages. Politicians should never interfere with educational issues. Those who are meddling with the issues happening in schools should stop forthwith,” Majongwe said.
Last Thursday, labour representatives stormed out of the Tripartite Negotiation Forum meeting in Harare in protest after government said it would not intervene in salary negotiations between employees and employers.