TEACHERS yesterday reportedly rejected a paltry 10% salary hike offered by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, but agreed to continue with the negotiations aimed at averting a potentially crippling strike as schools open for the second term today.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA
By close of business yesterday, a government delegation led by Policy Implementation minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, was still locked in a meeting with representatives of the Federation if Zimbabwe Educators Union (Fozeu), to break the impasse.
Sources said Fozeu executives spurned the 10% salary increase offer, demanding at least a 30% hike from their financially-broke employer.
Government had also capitulated on the contentious leave issue, restoring the teachers’ right to go on leave, albeit with conditions.
The sources said government had also offered to increase the rural hardship allowance, but had not provided figures, with teachers demanding up to 75% of their basic pay as an allowance.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe’s Takavafira Zhou confirmed the talks.
“The meeting is still on and we need to give dialogue a chance. If they are sincere about this dialogue process, the teachers are willing to listen and come up with a solution that ensures they are also able to live decent lives. However, if this engagement is a way to hoodwink us, it will be difficult to convince teachers not to go ahead with the strike,” he said.
Zhou said teachers were skeptical of government’s offer to allocate them residential stands under the Zanu PF-linked Command Housing scheme.
“We are not sure about this issue of command housing. Is this real policy or this is just a campaign gimmick to win the polls. Teachers cannot be expected to hedge their future on a campaign issue,” he said.
Meanwhile, parents in most parts of the country were making last-minute shopping for their school-going children as boarding students travelled to their various schools in anticipation of a normal schools’ opening day.