Schools ready for new term… . . . AS GOVT, WORKERS GET DOWN TO TALKS 

Source: Schools ready for new term… . . . AS GOVT, WORKERS GET DOWN TO TALKS | The Herald January 6, 2019

Schools ready for new term… . . . AS GOVT, WORKERS GET DOWN TO TALKSMrs Cecelia Alexander

Herald Reporters
All is set for schools opening tomorrow as a high-powered Government team today meets civil servants’ unions to discuss their salaries and conditions of service.

Teachers have ruled out a premature strike and agreed to give dialogue a chance.

They said today’s meeting should, however, come up with concrete proposals that address the challenges they are facing.

The meeting will be attended by unions under the Apex Council and all registered public service staff associations.

The Government team will include Finance and Economic Development Minister Dr Mthuli Ncube, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Dr Sekai Nzenza, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima, Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira and Civil Service Commission chairperson Dr Vincent Hungwe.

Inviting the workers, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Acting Minister July Moyo on Friday said the meeting will discuss the workers’ conditions of service.

“This meeting is part of the commitment of Government to engage all its employees in pursuit of developing common positions in relation to the improvement of employee salaries and generally resolve any matters that impact their conditions of service,” he said.

Apex Council chairperson Mrs Cecelia Alexander said Government should acknowledge that workers’ earnings had been eroded and needed improvement.

“Government will have to bring to the table concrete proposals to address the dire situation the workers face.

“To restore normalcy, a cost of living adjustment is rather urgent given that prices have quadrupled in the last quarter of 2018. This inflation, which is continuing, has excluded civil servants from the economy all together. If Government will not give a cost of living adjustment premised on the prevailing currency parallel market rate against which all prices are now benchmarked, then it must consider US dollar salaries for its workers,” she said.

She added: “Civil servants will not be able to afford school fees, bus fare, health care, food and other basic necessities with the very real prospect that most will not be able to come to work.”

“Government also has to move with speed to expedite the alignment of labour laws with the new Constitution. The lack of a proper social dialogue framework will be the reason Government will have to contend with putting out wild fires as distressed and impatient workers will have to act notwithstanding. For all our patriotism and desire to advance the President and the Government’s Vision 2030, the Government should be reminded that food, clothes, shelter, healthcare cannot wait for the unknown day when prosperity will come.”

Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Mrs Tumisang Thabela quashed rumours that schools would not open tomorrow.

“We are due to open our schools on Tuesday as scheduled,” she said.  “We are not aware of the strike you are talking about and we are assuming schools are opening on Tuesday.”

Masvingo provincial education director Mr Zadius Chitiga said: “As far I am concerned, there is no industrial action of teachers.

“Nothing has changed, we expect schools to open tomorrow, as scheduled,” he said.

He reiterated that no school was expected to increase fees without approval from Government.

“We have released a circular with guidelines to follow when schools decide to increase fees,” said Mr Chitiga.

“They (schools) have to apply for approval to raise fees. We also do not expect schools to send away learners for not paying fees.

“We, however, expect those parents with children at boarding

schools to have their things in order, as pupils need to be fed. If parents don’t pay children will not have anything to eat.”

Mashonaland Central provincial education director Mrs Naome Chikosha said schools would open tomorrow as usual.

She said today they would be holding their senior managers’ meetings as usual and had not received any information to the contrary.

In the Midlands, teachers have not threatened to take any industrial action. Acting Midlands provincial education director Reverend Aaron Mativenga said there was no indication that teachers in the province would go on strike.

He said the province was looking forward to opening the schools as scheduled. “So far nothing has happened in the province that shows us the schools are not opening,” said Rev Mativenga.

“As for Midlands our systems are in place and we look forward to opening the schools on Tuesday. In Midlands we have about 17 000 teachers who man our schools in the eight districts.”

In Manicaland, provincial education director Mr Edward Shumba said there were no indications of a strike and he expected all teachers to report for duty tomorrow as usual.

“I expect all teachers to be at work on Tuesday. In fact, we just had our provincial meeting with all the district schools inspectors (DSIs) where we outlined what is expected of them this school year. No one has indicated an intention to go on strike.”

Authorities in Matabeleland South said all was set for the schools’ opening and that there was no notice of job action from teachers.

Though the provincial education director Mr Lifias Masukume was unavailable for comment yesterday, most education authorities said they were confident the school term will start normally.

Over the weekend most boarding schools from the province were busy conducting orientation for Form One pupils in anticipation of the school s’opening tomorrow.