Teachers divided over strike action

HARARE - Teachers have strongly disagreed over what course of action to take after government’s offer of a 10 percent salary increment was not universally accepted by the unions — prompting sharp divisions which saw most of the schools reporting full staff complement at the commencement of the new term yesterday.

The country’s largest teachers’ union — the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) yesterday said it would give dialogue a chance while the conglomeration of all the unions, Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Union (FZEU) — alleged some of its members had sold out to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

Teachers had threatened to go on strike yesterday as they pressed for a hefty salary increment from government.

FZEU alleged that some of the unions have been bought by “a few pieces of silver” to agree to the government offer.

Teachers under the Apex Council led by Cecilia Alexander agreed to, among other things, be paid cash for the days they had lost after a vacation ban, and this will start from July.

Apex Council is the top body that represents all government workers.

Its chairperson Alexander said the government also agreed to reduce rentals for workers living in State-owned houses and restore long vacation leave for teachers.

Government has also offered the teachers to go on study leave using the unpaid vacation leave and a downward review of the monthly rentals to match their current housing allowance.

“As Apex Council, we said government should go back and increase the offer while we carry out the exercise of also consulting our members,” Alexander said, adding that she hoped negotiations could resume next week.

Zimta chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu said union leaders would meet later on Tuesday to discuss the government offer. He said most teachers in Harare’s schools had reported for duty.

FZEU and the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Association (Artuz) said they felt short-changed and accused Alexander of betraying the country’s underpaid civil servants.

In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, president of FZEU, Obert Masaraure, alleged government had bribed some senior officials in the Apex Council.

“The divide and rule tactic has always been there. It is important for teachers to focus on issues of bread and butter and desist from choosing silver over principle.

“We are aware that government is bankrolling some briefcase organisation that do not represent any worker but the interests of the individuals.  We are aware that government is determined to appear as if it respects human rights, and to do that they have engaged bosses at the Apex Council, including one who bought her position using resources from government, we have evidence to that,” said Musauraure.

In a statement, Artuz said “teachers are ready for action” even though they turned up for work.

“At all the (rural) schools that were visited by Artuz there was virtually no learning taking place. Learners could be seen milling around whilst teachers would be seen in groups discussing their way forward.

“The sit-in that we called for last night is a resounding success and a full blown strike is now imminent. Teachers are prepared to totally withdraw their labour.

“A few learners turned up for the new term with some schools recording a turn out as low as 15 percent.  Learners and parents who were interviewed by our teams attributed low turn out to the job action as parents were not sure if teachers would attend to their kids. The economic situation was also noted as some parents are still battling to secure fees,” read the statement.

“The offer of 10 percent from government is a serious assault on our living and working conditions we must strike back.

“We will not discharge our duties until vacation leave is restored with no conditions, 100 pecent salary increment, 75 percent of basic salary as rural allowance, teaching material for new curriculum and safety guarantee for all teachers. We are taking this route for the good of our education sector, we can’t trust disgruntled teachers to mould our kids,” said Artuz.

A snap survey by the Daily News yesterday revealed that most teachers were in classes at the start of the second term.

At Mabvuku Primary School in Harare, the Daily News crew witnessed learners milling around the school premises while some teachers could be seen basking in the morning sunshine, chatting and others seemingly discussing the strike and its possible “consequences”.

The same situation prevailed in other high density suburbs including Chitungwiza and Mufakose where students were seen either playing or just seated in the school playgrounds.

Government’s  proposed increase is still far lower than workers’ demands — they wanted 100 percent increase in pay — but it is still likely to widen the 2018 budget deficit, which was forecast at $672 million, or 4,5 percent of gross domestic product.

The deficit reached $1, 8 billion last year. — with Reuters

Comments (4)

we hope dialogue is the answer here,while children are in class.Teachers should see gvt's genuine position in as far as the status of the country's economy is concerned;I actually said gvt's genuine or sincere position otherwise;if they spend billions flying & merry making in foreign lands,availing themselves with posh cars & unacceptable allowances of all kinds ,then they would not be genuine-specifically focused on the clearly identified gvt spending loathed we should all join the strike including vendors,till they agree to prioritize our tax revenue in the most appropriate areas

addmore gudo - 9 May 2018

Be it deficit spending,should always be directed to proper areas not the buying of posh cars for individuals like chiefs & the ones in gvt themselves,bec at the end the moneys hav to paid on public bill.Unacceptable spending by gvt is prohibited

addmore gudo - 9 May 2018

do wat is right

g40 - 9 May 2018

Teachers who value the education of our children understand that 10% is a generously increase and the implications of inflated salaries on the economy must be saluted. The ones who want to stay at home must be free to do so and be replaced like President Khama did in Botswana. That is why their economy is strong. There is discipline. ZIM Teachers are in demand international allow them to vote with their fit. Book them seats on Chamisa "Bullet train"

Mufaro Sibanda - 10 May 2018

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