Govt plays hardball with teachers

Albert Chavhunduka

Government has warned teachers who will fail to report for duty with suspension following a pay strike by teachers which disrupted the opening of schools this Monday.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) said at least 1000 of their incapacitated teachers failed to report for duty this week when schools opened for first term.

ZIMTA said in a February 4 notice to strike, that the salaries earned in January by teachers are inadequate to support transport needs for those commuting to various stations in the rural areas and to support daily commuting by teachers in urban areas.

In a statement addressed to all Provincial Education Directors, District schools’ inspectors and Heads of primary and secondary schools, secretary of Primary and Secondary education Mrs Tumisang Thabela called for disciplinary action against teachers who failed to report for work.

“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 and national level and ensure that all due processes are followed as per Public Service Regulations 2000 as amended,” said Mrs Thabela.

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) tweeted and said threats from the government are futile since teachers have been punished enough.

“They are punishing learners. Teachers were punished for the past 5 years. There is no worser punishment than to helplessly watch your loved ones dying at home because you can’t afford health care,” said ARTUZ.

ARTUZ however said government should first resolve the salary crisis before teachers go back to work.

“We advise parents to suspend paying school fees for now. School fees should only be paid when the salary crisis has been resolved. Our government takes long to respond, so this crisis may drag for months,” read a tweet.

As schools opened on Monday, thousands of learners at various schools across the country were turned away in a rare show of unity by teachers who were backed by a union of headmasters. Those in boarding schools were restricted to their dormitories as teachers remain at loggerheads with government.

There is an ongoing contention between poorly remunerated civil servants and government who are in a dead-lock with the civil servants demanding that the lowest paid worker be given an equivalent of US$475 as the local currency continue to lose value.

A teacher in government is earning an equivalent of US$85.

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