Schools re-open, no teacher strike

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Harare, (New Ziana) – The third school term opened on Tuesday, but teacher organisations maintained their demands for a pay review, saying this needed to be attended to as a matter of urgency.

Some of the teacher representative organisations had threatened to go on strike at the start of the third term to press their demands for a higher pay increment, and better working conditions.

Government, in the latest pay offer last month, increased civil servant salaries by 76 percent, but teacher unions said this fell short of their demands.

A third term is critical for students in grade seven, forms four and six, who will be sitting for their final examinations and therefore require committed teaching at school.

The teacher unions said their members, contrary to earlier threats to
down chalks, had turned up for work, but insisted on direct, bilateral
pay negotiations with the government.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general,
Raymond Majongwe said last month’s increment, which raised the lowest
civil servant’s take-home pay to $1 023, had already been eroded by
inflation.

“Yes schools have opened, today but the truth of the matter is they
(teachers) are incapacitated,” he said.

“Incapacitated because they cannot afford to go to work, cannot afford
to send their own kids to school, they cannot afford medical bills,
they cannot afford rentals and they cannot even afford to buy food
because of the new price regimes that are out there.”

Majongwe said teachers, who negotiate pay increments under the umbrella
union of the entire civil service, were now pushing for bilateral
negotiations with the employer, as did their counterparts in the health
sector.

The stance was supported by other teacher unions, namely the Zimbabwe
Teachers Association (Zimta) and the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union
of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ).

“As Zimta we have opened schools and our members turned up for work. But
what is coming out are hardships, very serious hardships on both sides,”
Zimta President Richard Gundane said.

His organisation wants the government to pay its members the salaries it
paid them in the US dollar era,converted to local currency at prevailing
exchange rates.

Government has said it could not afford this.

“What we are saying is they should multiply the USD salary by the
official rate which is around 10 and that will take the salary of a
teacher to about ZWL$5 000,” he said.
New Ziana

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