Source: PTUZ petitions ILO over abuse | The Financial Gazette December 15, 2016
THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has asked the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to help resolve alleged abuse and harassment of teachers by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
In its petition to the ILO, a United Nations agency dealing with labour issues, social protection and working standards, PTUZ argues that teachers are being unfairly transferred from their posts, some having their salary payments stopped for unclear reasons, while others are being denied the right to go on vacation.
The Financial Gazette is in possession of a copy of the letter sent to the labour organisation dated November 15, 2016 and copied to Education International, a global federation of teachers’ unions.
“This victimisation has been and dates back to 2012. Such conduct is unworthy, unbelievable and unexpected from a government which claims to uphold (human) rights,” the letter said.
The militant union further argues that the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry is seriously abusing teachers in the country to the detriment of an education system that was once a beacon of Africa.
The union highlighted a case in which PTUZ contested and won against the Ministry at the Labour Court, were the union challenged the illegal transfer of seven Harare-based teachers.
The court ordered the Ministry to send the teachers back to their former stations, but the process was allegedly delayed and the teachers have had their salaries stopped for seeking legal recourse.
They have now gone for three months without salaries, in blatant disregard of section 65 of the country’s Constitution which states: “Every person has a right to fair and safe labour practices and standards and to be paid a fair and reasonable wage and that every employee is entitled to just equitable and satisfactory conditions of work.”
Having one’s salary terminated for seeking justice in this harsh economic environment has been described as grossly unfair to the teachers.
“There is a flagrant violation of court procedures, blatant disregard and disrespect of the law,” PTUZ said in the letter to the ILO, quoting the Constitution, the Education Act, Statutory Instrument 1 of 2000 as well as the ancillary Statutory Instruments and international laws on the issue.
Efforts by the union to have the matter rectified by the Ministry hit a brick wall.
The PTUZ secretary general, Raymond Majongwe, wrote to the permanent secretary about the issue and even attached the court’s ruling to support their claim, but there was no response.
In an interview with the Financial Gazette this week, Majongwe said the Ministry now appears to be trying to clean up their act.
“Teachers who were unprocedurally transferred were recently told to report to their previous stations. The Ministry is now trying to regularise things because they are aware of the letter we sent to ILO and are trying to avoid drawing unnecessary criticism. However, salaries of the members are yet to be processed, which is something we are still fighting for,” said Majongwe.
The union also pleaded with the ILO to look into sexual assault cases involving female teachers, which it said are going unpunished.
There is a reported case of one Junia Chipungu, a lady teacher based in Mashonaland East province.
She was allegedly sexually assaulted by a male teacher at her school, but her pleas for justice have been ignored and it is believed that some Ministry officials are conspiring to punish her for trying to expose the vice.
“Chipungu was later charged (for misconduct) and has not been on salary for the past 19 months simply because she raised her concerns over the conduct of ministry officials in trying to protect this notorious perpetrator,” the letter said.
Investigations have revealed that Chipungu has health challenges that urgently need attention, but is failing to get assistance because she has been deprived of her salary.
Educationists who spoke to this publication expressed concern over the issue, saying such behaviour from high ranking officials was uncalled for especially in a country that upholds the rights of women.
PTUZ also argues that the Ministry is defying a Labour Court order to restore vacation days that were illegally taken away from its members.
Contacted for comment, Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister, Paul Mavima, professed ignorance on the alleged abuses.