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Teachers call for Govt sincerity as strike enters day 2

Teachers call for Govt sincerity as strike enters day 2

By Vanessa Mhizha

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) has 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.

Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education, Thumisang Thabela on Monday night insisted “the majority of teachers” had reported for duty when schools’ opened for the first term on Monday.

However, Zimta president Richard Gundani who represents the biggest teacher union in Zimbabwe, said Government’s position lacked sincerity in addressing teachers’ concerns.

Teachers are 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 which is used by companies to peg the price of goods and services.

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

“..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.”

On Monday, Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education, Thumisang Thabela, appeared to issue a thinly veiled warning against teachers who had stayed away.

“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,” she said.

Thabela said Government has been in discussion with its workers in the framework of the National Joint Negotiating Council, and “was 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 finalized by Treasury,” she said

“Government urges its workers to report faithfully at their workstations to ensure uninterrupted delivery of services to the public.”

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.