Teachers mull strike

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Schools open tomorrow amid concerns there might be no teachers at the schools after one of the major teachers’ unions called on it’s members to down tools to press for better working conditions.

Two of the biggest teachers’ unions — Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) — issued conflicting reports on the issue of teachers strike.

PTUZ national director Enock Paradzayi said they declared a general strike last Saturday while Zimta said although “there is simmering anger amongst teachers with potential to cause a strike,” the association was, at the moment, putting faith in the negotiations with the government.

“We are no longer threatening but have declared a national strike,” said Paradzayi. “What we are calling for is that all teachers from around Zimbabwe join in the strike because the government is not taking us seriously.

“Some teachers are going back to teach because they have been promised incentives. They should realise that incentives have no future as they will not contribute to their pension or their medical aid so they should join the strike and demand a better salary.”

Paradzayi said the decision to declare a strike came after the union’s national executive council resolved their employer, the Public Service Commission, was non-committal to increase their salaries to a figure above the poverty datum line, currently pegged at $546.

“Teachers simply cannot continue earning $250. This is an insult,” he said. Zimta CEO, Sifiso Ndlovu, said their members had not yet declared a strike. “What the government is failing to realise is that teachers are frustrated. They are not getting clear answers about their salaries,” he said.

“This frustration is most likely going to cause a strike. We sent the government a position paper stating that teacher salaries should be reviewed for 2012, but they said they were consultations being held over this.

Our question is: What are they still consulting on when the National Budget has already been made and it has provisions for teacher’s salaries?”

Some Bulawayo teachers however, told NewsDay yesterday they felt the call to strike was ill-timed.
“We cannot strike now because it’s rather too early to do so.

A strike will only be determined by our salary at the end of this month. Until then, it is quite pointless to strike,” he said.