Auxilia Katongomara, Chronicle Reporter
TEACHERS’ unions have issued an ultimatum to Government to review their salaries and other pending welfare issues, threatening to go on strike at the beginning of the second term in May.
The teachers say next week they will demonstrate against poor remuneration as well as poor working conditions.
In an interview yesterday, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (Zimta) chief-executive officer Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said teachers’ unions met and resolved to down tools if their grievances are not addressed.
“We met as educator unions. There are nine teachers’ unions in Zimbabwe and today six of them met. And those who met resolved that they are going to be tabling their grievances to Government with a view that they’re going to be reviewed immediately and before the 9th of May,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said the matters that teachers want to be reviewed immediately were salary increase as well as a leave days issue that has been pending for over two years.
Government suspended vacation leave days for teachers in 2016, arguing it could not afford relief teachers.
It argued that engaging relief teachers would see it parting with $2,565 million for the three months the substantive teachers would be on leave.
“You know the salary has not been reviewed since 2013 and then the leave issue, we are taking this back to the Ministry and Government to say that they must give us our leave regardless of whether the matter is still in the courts or not. “And then the rural allowance. You know a Government officer will go to sleep in the bush and get $40 per night but somebody works there and they get less than $15 for a whole month. You can see how unjust it is,” Mr Ndlovu said.
He said they also wanted a guarantee of safety for teachers ahead of the forthcoming elections.
“We also want them to address issues to do with victimisation as we go for elections.
“Some teachers are victimised and chased away from school on frivolous claims by parents and those issues border on political affiliation and political disposition of individuals. Security is now required as we move towards elections. We don’t want to lose lives, we don’t want to hear of people being maimed so we want that addressed before people die,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said the teacher unions had agreed to have solidarity on the matters affecting them.
“The first two grievances are so urgent that we could have gone on strike as soon as possible but we said we have a new Minister, so we are going to give him time so that he can talk to the President to quickly address those issues,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Secretary General, Dr Takavafira Zhou, said they were giving Government a month’s notice before resorting to industrial action.
“We are giving Government notice of industrial action with effect from the second term. We have noted that the President has gone to meet all other people except workers. We have given Government a months’ notice to address the issues failure to which schools may fail to open next term,” said Dr Zhou.
“We won the issue of vacation leave but we are part of the group of civil servants that are not enjoying vacation leave. The issue of the new curriculum is not being treated with the urgency it deserves while the motivation of teachers has not been addressed.”