Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT will soon announce new civil servants’ salaries with Treasury making final adjustments in line with budgetary allocations as the State is sensitive to the plight of it’s employees, hence its commitment to providing decent wages.
According to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, at least 60 percent of teachers reported for duty yesterday countrywide.
However, Government raised concern over the barring of learners from accessing schools.
In some learning institutions, pupils were sent away after teachers last Friday declared that they were incapacitated to report for duty and demanded to be paid their salaries in forex.
In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said teachers should report for duty as their salary grievances are being attended to.
“Government has been in discussion with its workers in the framework of the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC), and, in its continuing sensitivity to the needs of its workers, is committed to the shared aspiration for the continuous improvement of conditions of service in the entire civil service,” read the statement.
“In that regard, Government is seized with the positive adjustment of conditions for its workers within the current budgetary framework.
Those adjustments will be announced soon, when specific details have been finalised by Treasury.”
The ministry said it was pleasing that most teachers reported for duty yesterday.
“In instances where students and pupils were unable to attend, Government awaits definitive information on the reasons, so as to respond appropriately.
Regrettably, Government has noted that, in a few instances, learners were barred from accessing schools,” read the ministry’s statement.
It said disciplinary action will be taken against absent teachers as their actions were tantamount to depriving learners their right to education.
“Government urges its workers to report faithfully at their work stations to ensure uninterrupted delivery of services to the public.
Access to education is the inalienable right of every child.
Deliberate interference with that right is a grave affront to the child, as well as to parents and guardians, apart from being an act of misconduct which cannot be tolerated.
Consequently, appropriate measures will be taken in line with relevant procedures,” it said.
In an interview, Primary and Secondary Education Ministry communication and advocacy director Mr Taungana Ndoro said it was only in cities where teachers did not report for duty.
“Let me shock you with statistics.
It is not every part of the country where teachers did not report for duty.
We had almost 60 percent of teachers attending duty today and only in metropolitan areas that is where we did not have many teachers.
We expect the situation to improve as the week progresses,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said the ministry expects more teachers to report for duty from today going forward.
Mr Ndoro said Government is aware of the teachers’ grievances and processes are underway to resolve their concerns.
He said teachers will be subjected to disciplinary measures if they do not report for duty as expected.
“We are aware of their grievances, some of them have written circulars claiming incapacitation.
Their grievances are quite genuine and we observed that following our joint monitoring visit where we noticed that there is a need for an improvement of conditions of services for teachers.
Processes are ongoing to address those grievances,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said while civil servants’ salary issues are being discussed, all teachers should report for duty as they risk disciplinary action.
“The normal procedure is that if there is someone who does not report for duty, the normal procedure the world over is that there are remedial actions that are taken by an organisation and one of the measures is not to pay the absent teachers as they might not be part of the ministry anymore,” he said.
On Sunday, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima told Chronicle that teachers should report for duty as the employer was working on improving their salaries.
“What we want the teachers to understand is that there is commitment to solving those issues but can only be solved through a negotiation process with the NJNC leading. So, we are appealing to the teachers to go back to school, their issues will be addressed.
We have a negotiation platform which they all understand. That should be used,” said Prof Mavima.
Yesterday, the minister said the teacher attendance issue was sector specific and is being attended to by the education ministry.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) president Mr Richard Gundane said he does not have the statistics on teachers who may and may not have reported for duty.
“Those who do not have boarding transport, or who live far away from their work station might not have reported for duty because they have genuine concerns that they do not have money to do that.
But what we have observed is that there are educators who genuinely reside in the schools such as boarding schools and rural schools and a few who reside in houses that are near urban schools.
Those ones you will find that they are there,” he said.