BY BEAUTY NYUKE
Teachers yesterday accused government of trying to use intimidatory tactics to force them to go back to work, but vowed not be cowed into submission, claiming their concerns were legitimate.
On Tuesday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Public Service Commission (PSC) had kick-started the process of docking truant teachers’ salaries in line with government’s no-work, no-pay policy.
Addressing a post-Cabinet Press briefing on Tuesday, Mutsvangwa said the Primary and Secondary Education ministry had already forwarded names of teachers who skipped work last month to the PSC so that their salaries could be docked.
Government introduced the policy after teachers declared incapacitation.
Teachers, however, yesterday accused government of using guerrilla tactics, but vowed that they would not be intimidated.
They said only about 70 000 out of 140 000 teachers were working at most twice a week since the opening of schools this term.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said teachers would steadfastly resist government threats in defence of their profession, which has “fallen from grace to grass”.
“The most reasonable thing would be to capacitate teachers so that they can report for work daily, but government can also adopt a suicidal approach,” he said.
Zhou said government should put reason ahead before emotion and stop legitimising callous and unfair labour practises, let alone discrimination in the payment of its workers.
“We hope the Cabinet would intervene on behalf of teachers to ensure that they do not continue to be treated in a degrading and servitude manner,” he said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said teachers would not report for duty until their issues have been addressed.
“Weather their names have been compiled or not, whether the teachers are being threatened or not, the issue is that they know what they want and they are going to stand for it,” he said.
Teachers are demanding a salary of between US$520 and US$550 or their equivalent in local currency.
Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union secretary-general Wonder Nyapokoto said teachers were professionals who did not need to be reminded how to do their work by the government’s hard stance.
Last week, Public Service minister Paul Mavima told the Senate that government could slightly increase teachers’ salaries on top of the 70% staggered increment that it recently offered them.