Teachers unions’ push for strike exposed

Source: Teachers unions’ push for strike exposed | The Sunday Mail 12 JAN, 2020

Sunday Mail Reporter

Some teachers’ unions are allegedly engaging in cheap tactics to increase membership through agitating for a strike when schools open for the first term on Tuesday, despite ongoing negotiations between the Government and the civil servants’ supreme representative body, the Apex Council.

The council on Friday rejected the Government’s offer to increase civil servants salaries by 100 percent, but immediately announced its intentions to continue dialogue with the employer until an agreement is reached.

Civil servants are demanding salaries equivalent to the interbank rate of US$475, an amount the Government says it cannot pay.

Had they accepted the Government’s offer, the lowest-paid worker would be earning $2 033 per month up from $1 023.

The Government had also proposed to pay a cushioning allowance of $750 for the month of December.

Although the Apex Council rejected all the offers, it is willing to negotiate a mutually agreeble figure.

However, some unions are pushing for a strike in the hope that a hardline stance will gain them  support.

Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Dr Takavafira Zhou said teachers will not be going back to school on Tuesday because they are incapacitated.

“Civil servants do not want a salary increase or cushion, but they want their salary they earned in 2018 which was degraded by Government,” he said.

“So teachers are not going back to work on Tuesday because they are incapacitated.

“What we want from the Government is the restoration of purchasing power parity.”

Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Association of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Mr Obert Masaraure said they would not return to work if their demands were not met.

“Teachers are not going back to work until they receive the index interbank rate salaries,” he said.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive Dr Sifiso Ndlovu joined in, calling for the Government to review salaries using the interbank exchange rate.

“Teachers are incapacitated to go to work because of the low salaries they are receiving,” he said.

While the unions are clamouring for a strike, the teachers themselves are understood to be willing to go back to work while negotiations continue.

Some teachers who spoke to The Sunday Mail indicated that they were willing to go to work as long as negotiations to address their situation are going on.

“The days lost through striking will be very difficult to recover, so it’s better that we go to work while we wait for negotiations to be concluded,” said one of the teachers who refused to be identified for fear of reprisals.

“It doesn’t help anyone that we boycott work today and then agree to go back tomorrow only to find piles of work waiting for us.”

Another teacher added: “School levies have gone up and that money also benefits us. On the other hand, most parents through SDCs have agreed to give us cushioning allowances, so why boycott classes? We need negotiations as we work.”