Majority of teachers flock back to work
Patrick Chitumba/Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporters
A MAJORITY of teachers in public schools have reported for duty in line with the Public Service Commission (PSC) directive for them to go back to class or risk losing their jobs for good.
Government had given striking teachers up to yesterday (Tuesday) to resume work or else be regarded as voluntarily resigned.
Most teachers were refusing to report to duty when schools opened for the first term on February 7, citing incapacitation. They have been demanding pre-2018 US dollar salaries of up to US$500.
President Mnangagwa had to intervene and directed that civil servants be given a 20 percent salary increase plus US$100 beginning next month and other non-monetary benefits such as paying tuition fees for their children.
Some teachers, however, refused to report for duty prompting the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to suspend those on strike without pay for three months for failing to report to work.
However, a High Court challenge by suspended teachers’ representatives to stay the suspensions was granted.
The PSC then announced that the teachers must return to class by yesterday, failure to which they will be resigned from service.
In an interview yesterday, Primary and Secondary Education communication and advocacy director, Mr Taungana Ndoro said they were happy with the teacher’s turnout in the schools as more than 60 percent were back in class.
“We have received reports from all the provinces and we are happy to say that teachers who turned for duty were more than 60 percent and that’s more than the number of teachers who turned out when schools reopened,” he said.
“This is an encouraging number and we will continue monitoring the situation.”
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) national secretary-general Mr Goodwill Taderera also confirmed that most teachers under their association had reported for duty.
“Reports from our constituency indicated that many members had reported for duty. Most teachers reported for duty across the country,” he said.
“I even physically witnessed teachers here in Mhondoro where I am based reporting for duty at their respective schools.”
Mr Taderera said as Zimta, they have resolved to take the engagement route with the employer instead of an antagonistic approach.
“You see, we are obviously not happy with the salary we are getting as teachers. We are still maintaining that we go back to the pre-2018 salary structure,” he said.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) leader, Dr Takavafira Zhou said all provinces urged the union to allow teachers to report for work.
“Collated evidence from provinces revealed that the best protection from the employer is unity of purpose in diversity and therefore teachers must return to schools as we continue fighting for US$540,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bulawayo had the highest number of teachers who absconded lessons during their industrial action, amid revelations that heads were turning away some from their schools.
This is according to statistics presented to parliament by the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Evelyn Ndlovu last week.
According to the statistics, Bulawayo had the least number of teachers turning up for work ever since schools opened with 41.5 percent, followed by Matabeleland North 44.5 percent, Midlands 45.7 percent, Mashonaland Central 45.8 percent, Mashonaland West 49.4 percent, Matabeleland South 50.1 percent, Harare 56.6 percent, Mashonaland East 57.3 percent, Manicaland 70 percent and Masvingo being the highest with 85.4 percent.
Minister Ndlovu said it was regrettable that some headmasters were turning away teachers.
“We have received information that some of these people are just attending and not teaching by the villagers themselves,” she said.
“At times we are informed that it is the headmaster who is turning away teachers. Even the teachers are calling to say, what can I do? This was especially so after my statement of suspension.
“So, it is a problem, when you have got a manager who is unionized, how do you work?”