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Govt sets “dogs” on striking teachers, moves to roll out suspensions

Govt sets “dogs” on striking teachers, moves to roll out suspensions

Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education, Thumisang Thabela has written to all provincial education directors, district schools inspectors and heads of schools directing them to take disciplinary measures on all teachers engaging in a stay-away over paltry salaries.

This comes after teachers launched a crippling nationwide strike on Monday, demanding to be paid US$ dollar salaries to cushion against a sharp increase in prices of basic goods and services as the local currency continues to tank against the green back.

The lowest paid teacher earns around Z$21,000, about US$90 on the parallel market.

Government had on Monday night insisted “the majority of teachers” had reported for duty when schools’ opened for the first term while teacher unions said over 80 percent of the workforce had failed to turn up to work due to incapacitation.

In a letter to various education authorities on Tuesday, Thabela said teachers who had failed to turn up for work will not be paid while disciplinary measures are instituted against them.

“It has come to the attention of the Permanent Secretary of Primary and Secondary Education that some officials did not report for duty when schools opened on 7 February 2022 as per the 2022 school calendar. This unwarranted conduct deprived learners of their right to education as enshrined in Section 75 and 81 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Thabela wrote.

“Accordingly, Heads of Offices should take urgent disciplinary action against any of their members who obstructed the opening of schools and deprived learners of their constitutional right. Where necessary, Heads of Offices should charge and suspend such members at the school, district, provincial or national level and ensure that all due processes are followed as per Public Service Regulations 2000 as amended,” she continued.

“Provincial Education Directors are hereby directed to provide a daily update on progress in handling the disciplinary cases in their respective provinces. Officials are reminded that the principle of “no work, no pay” shall apply where members failed to render their services,” Thabela added.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) had on Tuesday morning urged Government to respect processes of collective bargaining saying bad faith at the negotiating table had seen teachers fail to attend classes for a second day running.

“Incapacitation is real, yesterday the majority of educators in this country failed to go to work,” said Zimta president Richard Gundani.

“..A real situation brought about by failure of the employer to pay adequate salaries, failure of the employer to respect the processes of collective bargaining in terms of meeting time lines. A lot of effort was put in place to ensure that salaries were to be adjusted before schools open but faith at the negotiating table has resulted in long turnaround times were feedback from Government is not coming,” he added.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe maintained that teachers are not on strike but are simply incapacitated.

“Once Government capacitates then they will surely report for duty.”

Teachers say the salaries earned in January are inadequate to support transport needs for commuting to various stations in the rural areas and to support daily commuting by teachers in urban areas.