Teachers’ unions have alleged that government plans to increase from seven to 12 the number of years before a teacher becomes eligible to get vacation leave.
The unions said they only got to know of the development from their members who were visited by Civil Service Commission officials during staff audits at schools.
“On January 16, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Public Service told teachers in Bindura of the plan by government to increase the number of years teachers will have to serve continuously to qualify for vacation leave from seven years to 12,” Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president, Takavafira Zhou said.
“The sad thing is that we are hearing it through the grapevine, without any formal communication through the Apex Council. According to section 65(1) and 203 of the Labour Act, government should negotiate with workers on any issue that seeks to change the conditions of employment.”
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Labour and Public service minister Prisca Mupfumira were not successful, as her phone went unanswered neither did she respond to messages.
The proposal by the Public Service Commission will see the cash-strapped government making huge savings by avoiding double payments when teachers will be on leave.
An average 20 000 teachers are usually on leave each term, and replaced by temporary teachers, who will also be receiving salaries, stretching the government wage bill by over $2,5 million per term.
Zhou said they were planning to engage government over the decision.
“PTUZ is demanding a meeting with President Robert Mugabe and Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora over the matter. We want to air our grievances,” he said, while alleging there was a reign of terror in schools, as Civil Service Commission officials conducting the staff audits were harassing teachers affecting morale.
Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe chief executive officer, Manuel Nyawo said the Apex Council was supposed to discuss the issue at its meeting last week, but failed because the agenda became “pregnant”.
“We are disturbed by these developments. We don’t know why they are targeting teachers against all the wide spectrum of civil servants. What sin did the teachers commit to deserve this treatment?” he queried.
“We are condemning the decision with the contempt it deserves. We are not eligible to off days except off sick, which will be deducted again from our vacation days. This is unfair labour practice.”
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association chief executive officer, Sifiso Ndlovu accused government of making unilateral decisions.
“It is not consulting anyone. It just gives directives. The education sector will see more surprises, which will have a devastating impact on the quality of education in schools,” Ndlovu said.
Government this term recalled all teachers from leave, claiming they should be at their stations for a human resources audit.