Teachers, govt talks face hurdles

Source: Teachers, govt talks face hurdles – NewsDay Zimbabwe

NEGOTIATIONS between teachers and government over salaries could hit a
snag, with the employer expressing fear that further salary adjustments
could trigger inflation and reverse the gains made by government on price


Teachers, on the other hand, abandoned classes when schools reopened last
Monday for final examinations, demanding not less than US$520 in salaries,
a position which Labour minister Paul Mavima said was not feasible.

Addressing a post-Cabinet Press briefing yesterday, Mavima said
negotiations with teachers were still ongoing on top of a 40% cost of
living adjustment effected last week and US$75 COVID-19 allowances
extended to December.

“The unions must be reasonable and any salary negotiations should not
destabilise the economy and reverse the gains that have already been made
by government in stabilising prices and containing inflation,” he said.

Mavima met the teachers on Monday to try to persuade them to go back to
work, and assured them he would take their grievances to Cabinet for

But after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information minister Monica
Mutsvangwa said: “With regard to the re-opening of schools, the Ministry
of Primary and Secondary Education is monitoring the situation and
updating the Public Service Commission daily, while awaiting the outcome
of the ongoing National Joint Negotiating Council talks.

“Priority training of teaching and non-teaching staff on COVID-19
infection prevention and control measures for Phase 1 is underway in all
the provinces, while logistical arrangements for Phase 2 staff training
are being organised.”

She said government noted the anxieties expressed by learners, their
parents/guardians, as well as teachers, on the limited lesson time before
public examinations and the “ministry has come up with guidelines to
ensure effective care and support for both teaching and learning,
effective catch-up learning, remedial teaching, and preparations for
After the Monday meeting, joint teachers’ unions issued a statement
expressing their displeasure over government’s failure to address their

They said they told the ministers, including Primary and Secondary
Education minister Cain Mathema, of their concerns over disparities in
salaries for government workers in favour of the State security

The teachers claimed the police and soldiers were earning between $12 000
and $20 000, while the educators, nurses and other civil servants earned
less than
$4 000.

They vowed to continue with the work boycott until government has adjusted
their salaries.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe
said teachers spurned the government offers for land during the three-hour
meeting and, instead, called on their employer to pay a living wage.

“We have just come from a meeting that lasted about three and half hours
and we engaged Mavima, Mathema and some other senior government
officials,” Majongwe said.

“The good thing is up to now, all unions are speaking with a united voice.

We are not compromising, we have not capitulated, we have not betrayed the
cause … Our members are not on strike, we are incapacitated and our point
is very clear, we are not going to settle for anything less than what we
were earning in October 2018.”

Teachers were earning on average US$520 during the multi-currency regime,
but their salaries have been whittled down by inflation to around US$30 to
US$35 per month.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association spokesperson Daisy Zambuko said teachers’
current salaries were not enough to cover basic transport, accommodation
and even fees for their children.

“We are not sure of what exactly it’s meant to do because it’s way too
insignificant to be called a salary, not even enough to cover teachers
transport and right now, we are not in the mood of subsidising the
employer. So we cannot call it a salary because it’s still insignificant
to make teachers change their minds and go back to work,” she said.