Teachers in crucial wage talks today

HARARE - Apex Council, the top body that represents all government workers, will meet today with their employer to discuss the way forward with regards to demands for a salary review made by teachers.

In an interview with the Daily News yesterday, Apex Council spokesperson George Mushipe said the decision to down tools or not will be determined by what government offers and what aggrieved teachers decide on. The meeting comes as teachers had threatened to boycott schools opening for the second term until their demands for better working conditions and salary improvements were agreed upon and implemented.

“Government made us a 10 percent salary increment offer which we thought was a mockery to teachers and did not accept that. We told them to go back and mobilise more resources. We expect an improved package on our meeting,” Mushipe said.

He added that the best way forward will be determined by the teachers after giving them feedback from government.

Mushipe said the thorny issue is the cost of living.

“All we want is for salaries to be indexed according to the poverty datum line. At the moment the moral for teachers is at its lowest. There is also the debouching of teachers where at the moment, not many people are interested in getting promoted because the difference is so negligible and we want that addressed as a matter of urgency,” he said.

The cost of living as measured by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe low income urban earner monthly basket for a family of six increased from the end-March 2018 figure of  $588,70 to $591,58 by end-April 2018, showing an increase of $2,88 or 0,49 percent.

The basket is a fairly accurate depiction of the cost of living in urban Zimbabwe.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou earlier said the purported salary increase by Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima was unacceptable, as they never sought negotiations through the media.

“Government must learn to engage teachers through appropriate collective bargaining means. So unless government comes up with a clear offer that addresses the legitimate grievances of teachers, the strike is on,” he said.

“The strike is definitely on. As of now, there is no change on our position. We are not going to allow ourselves to be fooled by empty promises of a salary hike.

“So unless government works out something at the meeting, teachers will not be reporting for duty,” Zhou said.

While government had declared the strike illegal and threatened to fire any striking teachers, they argued that they had followed all required protocols and the strike was legal.

“We have diligently followed the laws of the land and the industrial action is legal. If there is any illegality, it surely is coming from the two ill-informed and overzealous ministers (Mavima and minister of State for Presidential Affairs and Monitoring and Implementation of Government Programmes Simbarashe Mumbengegwi) who instead of engaging teachers who formerly communicated all these issues to their offices, have decided to sadly abrogate their responsibilities by evading engagement and adopting inappropriate bullish tactics,” he said.

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