EDITORIAL COMMENT: Teachers should be wary of unions pursuing political agenda

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Government which is struggling to pay civil servants salaries has offered its employees a 10 percent salary increase with effect from July 1. This is a huge sacrifice given the fact that Government is staggering payment of salaries every month.

Government has said that teachers who were shortchanged by the vacation leave ban will be paid cash in lieu of the accrued days effective from July but the payment will be staggered. The bulk of the Government’s revenue is going towards payment of salaries which is not sustainable given that it has other financial obligations.

We want to commend teachers for calling off the strike which was supposed to have started last Tuesday when schools opened. The teachers, we want to believe, appreciate Government’s commitment to improving their conditions of services despite the limited resources at its disposal.

The Apex Council, the umbrella body representing all civil servants unions, has said the Government offer which includes reducing its rentals and upward review of allowances, is a positive move. We therefore do not understand why teachers’ unions under the banner of the Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Unions (FOZEU) are calling for a strike when negotiations between Government and civil servants meant to improve conditions of service have started.

Is this not a deliberate move meant to throw a spanner in the works by the union leaders whose agenda has nothing to do with fighting for the interests of their members? The Apex Council has already submitted its position paper meant to guide the 2018 National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) negotiations and to therefore call for strike at this juncture defeats all logic.

Teachers should be wary of trade union leaders who are pursuing a political agenda at their expense. Some of these so called trade union leaders long ceased being trade unionists as they are now political activists that want to use teachers to gain political mileage.

It is time teachers reject such leaders who have over the years abused union funds to buy posh houses and luxury cars instead of fighting for workers’ rights. Teachers who are supposed to be paid their 2017 bonuses this month should, like the rest of civil servants, channel their grievances through the Apex Council and not FOZEU which is not recognised by Government.

Teachers should therefore ignore the political call for them to down tools at a time when negotiations meant to improve their conditions of service have started.

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