AMALGAMATED Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) is mobilising teachers across the country to march from Mutare to Harare next week in protest against their employer, demanding to be paid their salaries in US dollars.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
ARTUZ president, Obert Masaraure said the march is planned for from Sunday to December 19 and nearly 500 teachers have confirmed participation in the 254km march dubbed ‘Salary Caravan.’
The organisation has since notified the Labour, Primary and Secondary Education and Finance ministries of their plan to picket at Finance minister Mthuli Ncube’s offices until their grievances are addressed.
“Civil servants’ salaries were negotiated in US dollars in 2012. The government unilaterally reversed the agreement in October 2018. The employer is now paying in Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) transfers,” Masaraure said.
“The move has eroded our earnings – a teacher now earns around US$120. This comes at a time when prices of basic commodities are sky rocketing. Teachers can no longer afford medication, education, shelter, sanitation, food and other basic needs.”
Masaraure also raised concern over the payment of bonuses on the grounds of basic salary alone.
While announcing his 2019 budget, Ncube said the government will only pay the bonus basing on the basic salary.
The union described the move as illegal and a clear violation of administrative justice. They said they have petitioned their employer countless times without a reasonable response, hence the decision to march starting next week.
“It should be noted that the call for salaries in US dollars is a temporary measure to cushion teachers from the obtaining economic crisis. Our members will gladly accept salaries in local currency when fundamental structural issues are addressed,” he said.
“The government itself is now receipting some imports such as cars in foreign currency. Teachers like other citizens have intentions to buy cars in a country with a poor public transport system.”