DEFIANT teachers have dug in demanding provision of personal protective equipment for fear of contracting COVID-19 before returning to the classrooms.
By Tatenda Chitagu
The teachers also vowed not to invigilate Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) examinations, saying the examination body should have a separate arrangement with them.
Teachers last week begrudgingly accepted a 41% salary increase and have since registered their displeasure, but they have been under pressure from a shadowy Zanu PF-linked union called Zimbabwe Parents Union (ZPU) to report back to work.
In a memo to members dated November 26, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) said its members were still incapacitated and vowed to snub invigilating the examinations.
“This note serves to remind each and every one of us that we are still incapacitated, but we are encouraging all our members to attend school once every week for the next three weeks to assess adherence of schools to COVID-19 regulations,” the memo, signed by Artuz secretary-general Robson Chere, read.
“We are informed of shocking COVID-19 reports emanating from schools. As Artuz members, we will not take part in invigilating end of year Zimsec examinations. We will not be drawn to invigilate learners that we did not teach for the whole year due to incapacitation and COVID-19-induced lockdown.”
Another teachers union, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) wrote to the Public Service Commission and Primary and Secondary Education ministry saying its members will not report full-time for duty, citing COVID-19 fears.
“We would like to officially notify you that our members will not be able to report for work full-time due to the continued state of incapacitation,” part of the letter by PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe, dated November 23 read.
“The agreement reached with government on remuneration last Monday did not capacitate us as expected. It still falls short of the minimum expenses that our members have to meet, which we estimate to be not less than US$520 which we demanded. Government has even failed to meet the consumer basket, announced by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe as about $21 000 and by our own research, not less than $28 000.”
Majongwe added: “Our members have had to report for work under duress, but will be able to do so for a maximum of three days a week. This enables them to hustle around to fend for the families. We regret to inform you that this situation will persist until government fully capacitates them to report for work full-time.
“We also officially inform you that our members will not invigilate Zimsec examinations because they do not work for that parastatal. If Zimsec wishes to secure their services, it should negotiate with them for remuneration commensurate with that duty. We stand ready to facilitate that dialogue before the examination session starts in earnest on December 1.”
Majongwe also requested for a waiver on teachers with chronic conditions to stop reporting for duty until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.