THE Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has threatened to mobilise its members to embark on a go-slow starting today when schools open for the first term to press government to improve their working conditions.
By Tatenda Chitagu/VENERANDA LANGA
PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou told NewsDay yesterday that the industrial action would escalate into a full-blown strike should government and civil servants’ union leaders fail to reach agreement when they meet under the auspices of the National Joint Negotiating Council on January 20.
“After consultations, some of our members said we should stay away, while others opted for a go-slow, demonstrations and a full-blown strike. We settled for the go-slow, starting tomorrow (today). It is a build-up to demonstrations in every city, then industrial action,” Zhou said.
The teachers are demanding bonus payments this month, salary increments or non-monetary incentives like residential stands.
They also want their salary deductions to be trimmed down to $10 per month, instead of $40.
“We have not yet got any salary increment for the past four years. In 2009, we agreed with government that without a pay rise, there should be no salary deductions. Last month, teachers were shocked to see $40 deducted, and the least we can agree on is $10.
“If there is no action after the National Joint Negotiating Council meeting slated for January 20, we will not rule out a strike,” Zhou said.
However, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) president Richard Gundane said although his union was pushing for an improvement in teachers’ working conditions, their members would not participate in the go-slow.
“They are all going to report for duty so that we communicate to them the position we have taken as a union. Zimta has not planned any go-slow. When they report for duty, our members will be advised on the plans we have for them,” Gundane said.
Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Manuel Nyawo said it was still premature for union members to engage in industrial action.
“We only met government last week and we agreed on the way forward, where they promised to stagger bonus payments. It would appear to us that other unions have an agenda to cause unnecessary mayhem in the country. Let us give space for dialogue, and if it is stalled, we can then act otherwise. We encourage all our teachers to report for duty,” Nyawo said.