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Govt punishes striking teachers

Government has moved to deduct salaries of over 10 000 teachers who went on strike early this month.

By Farai Matiashe

Government has moved to deduct salaries of over 10 000 teachers who went on strike early this month.

The Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) defied the Apex Council and called for an industrial action, which was heeded by 80% of their members.

In a statement yesterday, Public Service Commission (PSC) acting chairman, Ozias Hove said the government’s move was based on a no-pay, no-work principle.

“The PSC has noted isolated cases of abscondment by about 10 200 teachers for durations ranging from one to four days from February 5 to 8, 2019. The PSC would like to advise all who were absent from work without authority, that deductions from their leave days (of the offending individuals) using the principle of ‘no-work, no-pay’ will be effected,” he said.

Hove said the commission was treating these 10 200 as first offenders and a repeat of the same offence would attract a more severe punishment.

Hove said the PSC inspectorate and inspectors from the responsible ministry was to continue monitoring the situation in schools because there were some teachers around the country reporting for work, but not offering services to pupils.

“Those members reporting for work, but not providing services will be deemed to have been absent as they would not have rendered any service at all. The PSC inspectorate and inspectors from the Primary and Secondary Education ministry will continue to monitor attendance in all schools,” he said.

The striking teachers cited incapacitation and were demanding their salaries to be paid in United States dollars or, alternatively, $1 700 and improved remunerations.

But PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said the action by the government was unacceptable because it was damaging the education system.

“This is totally unnecessary. Teachers are suffering and the government knows it, so why punish the victims? If they are not careful, our education system will suffer serious collateral damages. Teachers will resign and be bystanders. If our employer is serious, they must engage their workers and find a way to motivate them,” he said.

Majongwe dismissed the government’s claims that the Apex Council did not call for an industrial action.

“Apex Council issued a strike notice (in January), so, government cannot get into a defence mode to exonerate them (Apex Council) for what they did,” Majongwe said.

Zimta chief executive officer, Sifiso Ndlovu said there has not been any communication with the unions regarding the decision to dock teachers’ salaries.

“Nothing has been communicated to us regarding the issue. We are only seeing the statement, which is circulating. It is very unfortunate that the government has decided to take such a move,” he said, adding that they were going to engage the employer to understand why they were doing so and on what grounds.