The planned strike by teachers appeared to have flopped yesterday amid apparent confusion over which instruction to follow between the two rival teachers’ organisations that had issued conflicting directives on Monday.
The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) called for a strike to commence yesterday while the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (Zimta) ordered teachers to remain at work until further notice.
The teachers, earning around $200 per month, are demanding salary increments in tandem with the poverty datum line, currently pegged at $500.
A survey by NewsDay in Harare revealed that most teachers had reported for duty but some were said to be on a go-slow.
At Sunningdale 2 Primary School, it was business as usual, but pupils said they were advised teachers would be on strike starting today.
It was the same scenario at Mbare High and Harare High schools where teachers were invigilating mid-year examinations.
PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe, however, said the strike had begun.
“The strike started today (yesterday) and more teachers are joining. We just have a problem where Zimta is fighting us in this call for the strike.
They distributed their own position and we are quite disturbed by that. Instead of them joining us and helping us fight, they choose to fight us,” said Majongwe.
He said some of the PTUZ members had been harassed and intimidated.
“As we speak, some of our members in Kariba are being forced to attend lessons by the police. We also have similar cases in Hwange, Mberengwa and Bikita.”
Zimta president Tendai Chikowore referred all questions to PTUZ and said they were in a better position to answer. The strike looks set to gather momentum as college lecturers, who have been left out in the recent university lecturers’ salary increments, are likely to join in.
A statement by the College Lecturers’ Association of Zimbabwe, a body representing lecturers at polytechnics, teachers’ colleges and vocational training centres, gave the PTUZ strike the thumbs-up.
“We are doing so in solidarity with teachers. College lecturers have been sidelined from the university lecturers’ salary increments. We are tired of the government’s tactics of buying time,” said the statement.